A young woman was to be transported from the county to a hospital and then to jail, but instead, the young woman allegedly removed her handcuffs and leaped from the police vehicle while it was traveling down the road, leaving her with serious head injuries that left her brain dead. However, the family says that the woman had made previous claims that officers sexually assaulted her, including rape, and that she was merely attempting to avoid further crimes against her.
Jorden Marie Simms was in the custody of the Graham County Sheriff’s Office when her death occurred.
ABC 15 reports:
DPS officials tell ABC15 that at the request of the sheriffs’ office, detectives from the Special Investigations Unit are looking into allegations of sexual assault and the in-custody death of Simms.
The family of the 28-year old woman is distraught. In a very emotional post on social media, they are demanding “Justice for Jorden” saying the events narrated to them by the Graham County Sheriff’s Office just don’t add up.
According to the Graham County Sheriff’s Office, Simms was arrested by Safford police on December 21 for shoplifting. She also had an outstanding felony warrant out of Yavapai County involving thefts and drugs.
Simms’s aunt Crystal Barnett told ABC15 the theft charge stemmed from Simms taking a car belonging to a family member’s friend. Barnett said Simms had struggled with addiction.
In a Facebook post, relatives wrote: “A beautiful mother, daughter, sister, and niece gone too soon. Jorden has battled addiction for several years and has paid dearly for her addiction.”
The post goes on to say Simms told detention officers in Graham County that she had been raped by the Safford police officer who had arrested her. Family members say Simms was taken to Sierra Vista for a rape test, and upon her return, she was searched by a female detention officer who sexually assaulted Simms with an unknown object while searching her.
Simms’s family says, “For the next several days she pleaded with her mom to get her out of there. She was afraid. She knew something bad was going to happen. Her mom was trying but couldn’t make it happen fast enough.”
Now, addiction or no addiction, rape and sexual assault by a member of those who are to be peace officers is unacceptable.
As such, Arizona’s Department of Highway Safety (DPS) is now investigating not only how a handcuffed, shackled, and escorted inmate could slip out of her shackles and jump to her death from a moving police vehicle, but also the inmate’s claim Deputy French raped her.
In a report by EACourier:
According to the GCSO release, after the initial exam a medical professional at the center recommended taking Simms to Mount Graham Regional Medical Center, which had equipment not available at the center. They were reportedly northbound on 20th Avenue, near the hospital, the officers riding in front and Simms in the rear, when she allegedly opened the door and jumped out. Simms had reportedly removed her handcuffs, belly chain and ankle restraints.
The release stated that, according to the investigation, GCSO staff had loosened the ankle restraints after Simms complained they were causing pain; a small tube of shower gel with an open cap was found in the rear, as were Simms’ jail-issued shoes; and the child-proof lock on Simms’ side had been switched to the off position. The shower gel was reportedly the same type used at the Sierra Vista advocacy center, and was reportedly kept in the restroom Simms used while there.
So, how did she get out of the shackles? It would appear that she’s got quite a bit of metal on here: ankle restraints, handcuffs and a belly chain.
According to the report, they were loosened and she used shower gel to get free of them, but no explanation exists as to how she opened a door that should have been locked.
It was learned staff had loosened the ankle restraints due to Jorden Simms complaining they were rubbing her ankles and causing pain. A small tube of shower gel with the cap open was found in the back seat where Jorden Simms had been seated.
Investigative reporter Jack Burns writes, “Because the sheriff’s department asked DPS to take over the investigation it does not appear the police department is covering up for its officers. For example, the decision to forensically evaluate Simms [sic] body to see if there was some sort of sexual contact between she [sic] and the arresting officer and the female officer who allegedly assaulted her was made by the Graham County Sheriff’s Office as well. Yet questions remain.”
“Did officer French rape Simms or is he an innocent victim of a drug addict’s attempt to blame a cop for rape in an effort to get out of jail and back to her drug of choice?” Burns continued. “Or did officers actually allow Simms to jump out of the moving police car to her death. These questions and more are yet to be answered. Simms’ family now is demanding an explanation as to how their beloved family member could get hauled into jail on shoplifting charges and end up dead while in police custody mere feet away from cops who were transporting her.”
This young lady’s death is tragic and there needs to be a thorough investigation, but one wonders if it will truly be independent or not despite DPS being those who are investigating. After all, both off these are, in essence, agents of the state.
Just last month, we reported on a family that produced video showing their mentally ill daughter being restrained, sexually abused and tortured in Maricopa County Arizona despite assault charges against her being dropped and her remaining in jail for nine months!
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