Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office settles jail attack lawsuit for nearly $12M

By Jill Ryan
Associated Press
Published: Monday, June 13, 2022 - 12:19pm
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The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office has reached an $11.75 million settlement in a lawsuit involving a jail attack that seriously injured an inmate more than two years ago.

The county’s Board of Supervisors approved the settlement for the family of Brian Ortiz, who was 18 at the time and jailed for violating probation by not paying a fine.

The attack was captured on jail video.

A lawsuit said Ortiz was hit or kicked nearly 50 times by another inmate and it took more than two hours before he was taken to a hospital.

Ortiz was unconscious, seizing and bleeding from his head, but the lawsuit said emergency care wasn’t provided and no one from the jail called for an ambulance.

According to the lawsuit, Ortiz was in a coma for more than two months and is learning to walk again and in a 24-hour extended living facility, but is severely cognitively disabled and will need medical treatment for the rest of his life.

Ortiz’s mother filed a lawsuit four months after her son was beaten.

In a statement, county Sheriff Paul Penzone apologized to the Ortiz family but said the officers involved “didn’t violate any MCSO policy.”

“Unfortunately, jails are inherently dangerous given many of those incarcerated are violent criminals, like the inmate who attacked Mr. Ortiz,” Penzone added. “Although MCSO meets or exceeds national best practices, the subsequent delay in our recognition of the event and engagement to provide aide occurred due to human and operational shortcomings. This is not an excuse, yet it is a reality in the complex environment that exists within the jail setting.”

Law Enforcement