Family of man brutally murdered at 4th Ave. jail suing MCSO

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Latest on jail murder investigation

PHOENIX - A murder at the 4th Avenue Jail was caught on tape and now the victim's family wants to know why no one tried to stop it.

It is clear on surveillance footage that two inmates walked inside one jail cell but then later only one of those inmates came out alive.

Much of the beating was also caught on tape so now the victim's family wants to know how no one could see or hear it happen.

Maricopa County Jail Chief Jerry Sheridan says, "Robert Leroy Cotton was a victim of homicide inside the Fourth Avenue Jail May 1st, 2008.

The whole 15-minute-long murder was caught on tape but still the sheriff's department says, "At no time during the 15-minute assault could our officer see or hear what was happening in that cell."

That is despite the fact that a number of different camera angles show five inmates hanging out in the corridor and then one of them, Robert Cotton, walk upstairs and into Pete Van Winkle's cell.

Moments later Van Winkle walks in too and what happens next is a 15-minute brutal attack, ultimately resulting in Cotton's death.

Sheridan explained, "Only when the body was dragged out by the assailant could the tower officer see what transpired."

Why?Because according to Chief Sheridan, the tower officer has 32 surveillance cameras to chose from but can only view six at a time.

Chief Sheridan says, "The officer would have to have that camera up as you can see it's not up nowand he'd actually have to pay attention to see anything going on."

The chief maintains his officers were doing their job and that, " It was not a staffing issue, not a training problem, not an infrastructure, not a classification problem or a camera issue."< /p>

Now the family of Robby Cotton is suing the Maricopa County Sheriff's Department for $2 million.

Attorney Joel Robbins says, "No one should die the way Robby died and not have them change something so it doesn't happen to something else."

Nevertheless, the sheriff's department is accusing Robbins of only releasing the tape because of the pending election.

Robbins says, "Robby Cotton was not murdered so he could make the nightly news three weeks before the election. He was murdered because sheriff doesn't pay attention and do his job."

Again, Robbins admits to being one of the sheriff's greatest critics but maintains he only released the tape because the media asked for it.

In the meantime, the sheriff's department tells us they have no plans to make any changes to security inside the jail.