Colorado Lawsuit Alleges 'Willfill and Wanton Excessive' Force Caused Inmate's Death

A lawsuit filed in Denver on Tuesday alleges that a 41-year-old male was fatally beat in a local jail by its deputies after he reportedly yelled and flipped them off.

Rodney Jaramillo says that deputies at the Pueblo County Jail used "excessive force" on his brother, Joseph, who was being held for an opioid withdrawal, the Denver Post.

According to the lawsuit field in the U.S. District Court in Denver, Joseph Jaramillo was in custody on February 23, 2016 when he was ordered to return to his bunk. During a back-and-forth exchange, he yelled and flipped off a deputy. After deputies Christian Crain and Nicholas Cardinal grabbed him "aggressively," Jaramillo was brought to the floor where he lost consciousness and they continued the assault.

Rodney Jaramillo also charges that the medical technician who was supposed to treat his brother failed to help him. The technician "ignored this reality and denied Mr. Jamarillo access to such critical, life-saving treatment."

Despite being in pain for more than 16 hours, "a cursory and generally
indifferent assessment of Mr. Jamarillo's complaint" was conducted. Jamarillo continued to complain but was ignored and, "after banging on his cell window screaming for help (observed by both Defendants Crain and Baca), Mr. Jamarillo collapsed of respiratory failure and never again regained consciousness," the lawsuit stated.

On February 29, 2016, Jamarillo was taken off life support and died. Days after the incident, the Pueblo Country Sheriff's Office said the "evaluation of the death" was ongoing amid "erroneous and speculative information" on social media. The statement noted that Jamarillo was not in police custody at the time of his death.

The Pueblo County Sheriff's Office told Newsweek that it "normally does not comment on pending litigation," but said comment was necessary following the Denver Post article.

"A medical examiner's report concluded the death of the former Pueblo County Jail inmate, who died at a Denver hospital, was the result of natural causes," said spokesperson Gayle Perez.

In the days after his death, Jaramillo's family demanded answers, organizing a rally and chanting, "We want to know, justice for Joe."

In a statement provided to Newsweek, the Pueblo Country Sheriff's Office said it had done a "thorough investigation" and that a forensic autopsy was performed determining "the cause and manner of Jaramillo's death."

"I hope that if or when this case is presented to a fact-finder, the 'actual facts' will be reported to the public in a responsible manner," said Pueblo County Sheriff Kirk M. Taylor in a statement.