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Claims of excessive force after inmate death at Yuma County Jail

Claims of excessive force after inmate death at Yuma County Jail

YUMA, Ariz. - UPDATE: William Kerkes, the Deputy County attorney representing the parties the claim was presented to, called News 11 back. He has declined to comment at this time.

News 11 has obtained video surveillance of the day that a Yuma County Adult Detention Center inmate died.

Jorden Stevens, a member of the Cocopah Indian Tribe, died while in the care of the YCSO Adult Detention Center February 15, 2017, and his death was ruled a homicide by the Pima County Forensic Science Center in October 2017.

Cornelius "Candy" Camarena is representing Winona Stevens, Jorden Stevens' mother in a wrongful death claim that was presented to Yuma County Sheriff's Office, Yuma County Jail District, Yuma County and Yuma City.

Camarena said he has been advised that the claim will be declined by William Kerekes, Deputy Yuma County attorney. 

News 11 reached out to Kerkes on three separate occasions, even leaving a handwritten note in his office, but have not heard back. 

Inside the claim, alleged that the Yuma County Sheriff's Office and Yuma Police used excessive force on Stevens. 

As seen in the videos, Stevens was involved in a scuffle with more than 10  YCSO detention officers. 

“In the process of him being released, he was assaulted by numerous Yuma County Sheriff detention officers," said Camarena.

News 11 watched more than 10 minutes of the incident but chose to only disclose some of the footage, withholding the footage of Stevens' unresponsive body being carried to a cell. 

Inside the cell, on-site staff tried to resuscitate Stevens. Paramedics later arrived but were unsuccessful in reviving Stevens. 

The claim details injuries such as small red marks consistent with taser burns, bruises, abrasions and blunt force trauma. 

It also mentions that Stevens had an enlarged heart due to high blood pressure and a fatty liver, which could have been contributing factors to his death. 

News 11 reached out to YCSO to ask if any of the detention officers involved were punished and to see the results of the internal investigation they conducted on themselves, but they declined to comment on the matter. 

The claim stated that the blunt force trauma found during the autopsy resulted from the original arrest by Yuma Police. It alleges that it occurred when Yuma Police struck Stevens with a closed fist, causing brain damage. 

Yuma Police said they cannot comment at this time because it is an ongoing lawsuit. 

Camarena plans to move forward once the claim is denied. 

"Our next step is to file a lawsuit. We’ll be filing a lawsuit in Federal district court, alleging a violation of Mr. Jorden Steven’s civil rights," said Camarena.


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