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Just one week ago the family of 44-year-old Ernesto “Marty” Atencio filed a $20 million dollar wrongful death lawsuit against the City of Phoenix, the Sheriff’s Office and the county agency responsible for administering jail health care. Yesterday, yet another inmate inexplicably died behind bars at the Maricopa County Fourth Avenue Jail in Phoenix following an altercation with detention officers.

Raymond Manuel Farinas, 40, was arrested and booked into the same jail on June 3rd. He immediately contacted his mother to have her post his $1,000 bond, which she paid in full. Farinas and his family then eagerly awaited his release. Family members said Farinas had previously spent 22 years in prison for armed robbery but was trying to turn his life around. He recently graduated from the Arizona Automotive Institute and was continuing on to earn his associate degree.

“My son wanted to live a normal life,” said his mother, Carmen Ramirez. “That’s why he had gotten himself into school and was doing everything he could.” Then she said she repeatedly called the jail for information on her son’s release. “We called the number and we called the number and we called the number and they never released him,” Ramirez said.

Later that evening, two Maricopa County sheriff’s deputies arrived at her Phoenix home. “I said, ‘What is wrong with my son?’ Ramirez recalled.” And they said, ‘That’s what I’m trying to tell you.’ I said, ‘What are you trying to tell me?’ They said,’ Ma’am your son died.’”

Ramirez said she was told that her son choked on a peanut butter sandwich, but she said he never would have eaten peanut butter. But Ms. Ramirez claimed her son would never have eaten peanut butter because he was allergic.

Ramirez claims that when she was finally allowed to see her son’s body, it was covered in bruises. “He was all bruised like they had taken him and beaten him with something,” she said. “He had a cut on his forehead.”

A Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson said an investigation was pending and promised that a statement would be sent to the station, but so far it has not been sent.

A letter from the Maricopa County Office of the Medical Examiner lists Farinas’ cause of death as “pending” until an investigation is complete.

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