$20M claim filed in death of Arizona jail inmate - FOX 10 News | fox10phoenix.com

$20M claim filed in death of Arizona jail inmate

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Ernest "Marty" Atencio Ernest "Marty" Atencio

PHOENIX - A $20 million notice of claim has been filed against Phoenix and the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office over a jail inmate's death last year.

The family of Ernest "Marty" Atencio filed the claim Friday. It's the precursor to a lawsuit.

The 44-year-old Atencio died on Dec. 20, four days after an altercation with police and detention officers in a Maricopa County Jail.

Atencio was an Army veteran who suffered from schizoaffective disorder.

Surveillance video shows the incident -- he was tased, held down, and then thrown into a cell where he was later found dead. Atencio's family says the officers went too far.

A county medical examiner's report released last week said Atencio died of complications from cardiac arrest, but didn't list the manner of death.

The claim alleges that excessive force was used and is seeking $15 million from county agencies and $5 million from Phoenix police.

"They're not in it for the money, they're in it to see justice," says Michael Manning, Atencio family attorney. "We just need this sort of culture of cruelty in this sheriff's department to stop."

If they don't settle, both agencies will be sued for wrongful death.

MCSO released the following statement: 

"Today we received notice of claim against the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, and at this point it is premature to comment.  If a lawsuit should emerge, at that time we will consider providing a statement."

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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