Sheriff's Critics Hold Protest In Downtown Phoenix

Published January 14, 2012 4:09AM (EST)

PHOENIX (AP) — About 100 opponents of America's self-proclaimed "toughest sheriff" rallied Friday in downtown Phoenix to protest the treatment of an inmate in one of the sheriff's jails and to call attention to racial profiling allegations against the sheriff's office.

Forty-four-year-old Ernest Atencio was found unresponsive in a jail cell last month after fighting with some of the Maricopa County sheriff's jail officers.

Atencio later died after his family decided to take him off life support.

The sheriff's office says Atencio was combative when Phoenix police brought him to the jail for booking on an assault charge.

The U.S. Justice Department has alleged that Sheriff Joe Arpaio racially profiles Latinos and bases immigration enforcement on racially charged citizen complaints.

Arpaio denies the allegations and says the Justice Department's civil rights investigation was politically motivated.

By Salon Staff

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