Family of county jail inmate who died reject settlement offer

Posted: Updated:
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX -- The family of a man who died while in custody at the Maricopa County 4th Avenue jail has turned down a settlement offer Monday from the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors.

Board members met and agreed to offer $550,000 to the family of Ernest "Marty" Atencio. The figure pales in comparison to the $19.5 million the family is looking for in a wrongful-death lawsuit.

In December of 2011, Atencio, 44, was arrested on non-violent misdemeanor charges and taken to the jail. Surveillance video shows there was an altercation between Atencio and police and MCSO detention officers.

"They knew he was mentally ill and they made fun of him," said attorney Mike Manning, who is representing Atencio's family in the lawsuit. "And had it just been tormenting and teasing he would be alive today. But it turned lethal about 10 minutes later when they decided to attack him."

Video inside the jail shows about a dozen officers piled on top of Atencio. He was transferred to a safe cell, where they surrounded him again. Minutes later, he was left motionless and naked on the cell floor. He died days later.

"He was just a father, a veteran,and a son that was sick and he needed help,"said Manning. "Instead they just tortured him teased and killed him."

The lawsuit is heading to trial. Manning said that he is going through depositions, taking statements and collecting documents. No trial date has been set yet.