Demise in police custody: What occurred to Jorden Simms?

One day after Christmas 2019. Jorden Simms fell from the back seat of a prison transport until her death. Just days after she was alleged to have been sexually assaulted.

SAFFORD, Ariz. – “These doors must not open from the inside,” said Rose Mary Lacey, deputy sheriff for Graham County.

But somehow they did. Jorden Simms, 28, fell to her death from a prison truck two blocks from a hospital.

Simms’ family believes Jorden was killed because she claimed to have been sexually assaulted by her arrest officer a few days before she died.

A 509-page investigative document from the Ministry of Public Security added new information to the story.

How did we get here?

How did it come about that Jorden Simms died on a Safford street the day after Christmas 2019?

It started when she was arrested five days ago.

The case started with a shoplifting. Safford Police Department documents said Simms had previously been arrested for shoplifting.

Safford Police Officer Jeremiah French responded, writing that he had found out that Simms had an arrest warrant for her in Yavapai County.

After her arrest, the documents show that Simms complained of stomach pain and was taken to the hospital.

According to the arrest officer, he did not wear a body camera in the hospital to avoid violating the HIPAA.

12 News received prison videos and tapes from Jorden’s final days.

The video shows how Simms tried to escape from the prison bay and was wrestled to the ground by the French.

“I ran away from the policeman who molested me,” Simms said during a forensic interview on December 26th, hours before she allegedly jumped out of the vehicle.

She continued her allegations against French, describing the allegedly inappropriate behavior.

“He kept telling me,” It’ll be fine, it’ll be fine, just don’t make me look stupid, “Simms said.

Simms was examined on December 23 for evidence of sexual assault.

Simms said when she was taken back to jail she was attacked again, this time by a police officer, while being searched in the shower.

“She told me to go ahead and report it because ‘nobody would ever believe you,'” Simms said in a forensic interview.

Simms would be brought for another sexual assault investigation on December 26th. After the exam, Simms was recommended to go to a hospital to see why she had so much stomach pain. Simms dropped out on the way to the hospital.

An autopsy performed after Simm’s death revealed that she had ovarian cysts and Meckel’s diverticulum, a lifelong medical problem with the bowel.

Both officers, who were accused by Simms of the attack, denied the allegations.

What did the sexual investigation reports find?

According to the DPS investigation, the investigation found male DNA. However, the results were inconclusive due to insufficient DNA sampling.

DPS interviewed the doctor who performed both sexual assault tests.

The investigator found it “a little strange” that an officer was left alone with a patient.

On the second exam, the doctor said there was some additional bruising but no evidence of sexual assault by the policewoman.

While she was talking to DPS investigators, the doctor summarized her assessments. The investigation into allegations of sexual assault ended with this interview.

“The investigation found that Jorden Simms’ sexual assault allegations by Safford police officer Jeremiah French and Graham County’s detention officer Kianna Bays were unfounded,” the report said.

Officer French’s attorney said the results were expected but French was happy to be clarified.

“I’m not buying it. I’m sorry, I won’t buy it, “said Deborah Sanchez, Jorden Simms’ mother.” There shouldn’t have been a male officer alone in a room. And then the body camera should be switched off. “

Deborah said she could not mourn her daughter’s death as she continued to seek justice.

“My daughter doesn’t deserve to die. No matter what, ”said Sanchez.

How did Simms fall out of the car?

According to police, Simms escaped handcuffs, a belly chain, and ankle supports before jumping out of the back seat of the police transport vehicle two blocks away from the mountain. Graham Regional Medical Center.

Police later found that the child locks that were supposed to prevent inmates from opening their own doors were on the rear passenger door, but not on the driver’s door, which Simms was sitting on.

The officers also found a single bottle of travel-size shower gel.

The DPS investigation found that Sergent Arthur “TJ” Perez and Assistant Rose Mary Lacey said they were unfamiliar with the vehicle.

Instead of the normal vehicle designated for transportation, they used a designated Graham County Sheriff Ford Explorer so they could reportedly go “faster”.

However, Lacey informed investigators that her normal unit had a glowing control light and grabbed a rocking vehicle.

Lacey told investigators she was unaware that the vehicle had parental controls.

“In all of my years, I’ve never had a police vehicle with working kid locks or locks,” said Lacey.

Investigators asked Lacey if she ever remembered locking the police car’s door mechanism, to which she replied, “I didn’t physically do it.”

While Sergent Perez was preparing to leave the sexual examination site, he told investigators that they had not searched Simms or the back seat before heading back to Safford.

Both officers told investigators that Simms was usually quiet but would occasionally ask for the heat to be turned up.

When asked how hard it would be for an inmate to get out of handcuffs, a belly chain, and ankle supports, former Phoenix Police Commander Jeff Hynes said, “Any of these things are difficult, they are difficult.”

“We only hear excuses after excuses,” said Benjamin Taylor, Simms’ family lawyer. “The report contains a number of excuses as to why they did not understand or could not check the vehicle or were not used with this vehicle. It makes no sense. “

What happens next?

Last year the attorney general ruled that none of the officers involved would be charged.

In a statement, the Attorney General’s office said, “We have completed our review and have concluded that no criminal charges are appropriate.”

“I feel like my daughter was thrown away like trash. I honestly do that,” said Sanchez.

The family is now seeking justice in a civil court.

Benjamin Taylor said the family filed a $ 5 million lawsuit against the city alleging officials negligently committed Jorden’s death.

Officer Jeremiah French has since retired from the Safford Police Department.

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