A pair of Phoenix police officers contacted Ernest Atencio, the man who died last month after an altercation with sheriff’s detention officers, two times in short order on his last night of freedom.

During the first contact, outside a convenience store, officers noticed Atencio was acting erratically and told him to go home.

Moments later, the officers received a call about a man who was kicking at a woman’s apartment door in the 2800 block of West Laurel Lane. The officers recognized Atencio as the man they had just encountered outside the convenience store, according to police documents. With the victim requesting prosecution of Atencio, the officers took the 44-year-old Phoenix resident into custody.

Atencio would die within days, after Phoenix police officers struggled with him in a jail booking area and Maricopa County sheriff’s officers joined in the scrum. According to a hospital report, Atencio was stunned with a Taser six times. Then, he was left naked in a safe cell.

The sheriff’s investigation of Atencio’s death is ongoing, and it could be months before the Medical Examiner’s report identifying the cause of his death is complete.

Atencio’s family has threatened to sue the Sheriff’s Office over the incident.

According to Michael Manning, the family’s attorney, the police report and independent toxicology results confirm what Atencio’s family members already believed: Atencio should have been on medication to help him with his psychological issues, but he was not under the influence of any drugs or alcohol at the time he was involved in the jail altercation.

The toxicology screening, conducted when Atencio was admitted to St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center the day after his arrest, showed negative results for alcohol and a host of drugs including cocaine and methamphetamine.

The toxicology results confirm the suspicions of the two Phoenix police officers who encountered Atencio twice on the evening of Dec. 15 and wrote in their reports that while Atencio was behaving erratically, they did not believe he was on drugs.

“He showed no signs of being a danger to himself or others, he simply appeared to be not medicated and engaged in very random conversation,” Officer Sarah Roberts wrote of her first encounter with Atencio that night. “He was not violent at all toward any officer or civilian present. Atencio stated that he lived down the street and as we had no crime he was instructed to return to his home.”

The call from the apartment complex came a short time later and the responding officers found Atencio “aggressively pointing his cell phone” at the victim. The officers later learned that Atencio was kicking the woman’s apartment door. When the woman walked out into the parking lot, Atencio walked up to her “and stopped only an inch away from her face and began yelling at her.”

“But after a few minutes of yelling at her, Atencio then got distracted by a car and began chasing it,” officers wrote.

The behavior – consistent through both encounters – led the officers to believe Atencio was experiencing mental-health issues, according to the report.

“He was not exhibiting any symptoms of drug use. His eyes appeared normal, he was not sweating profusely, he was not twitching, his speech was normal … he was alert and would respond to questions,” Roberts wrote. “However would get easily distracted and speak of random and odd things.”

Video taken from jail surveillance cameras showed Atencio’s struggle with police and sheriff’s detention officers occurred about 90 minutes after he arrived at the Fourth Avenue Jail.

In the video, a Phoenix police officer can be seen placing his arm around Atencio’s upper chest or neck before Atencio is taken to the floor and surrounded by officers. Atencio kicks and struggles on the floor, wrestling with as many as 10 officers before an unidentified sheriff’s deputy deploys a Taser in an effort to defuse the situation.

The video later shows eight sheriff’s officers surrounding Atencio in a padded cell, where they dragged the Gulf War veteran after he was subdued. Once in the cell, the sheriff’s officers continue to struggle with Atencio, although the crowd in the small room makes it difficult to see Atencio, who is on the floor.

A sheriff’s spokeswoman said when Phoenix police officers took Atencio to the floor, sheriff’s detention officers went to help as they would with any altercation in the jail-booking area.

Read more: http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2012/01/10/20120110phoenix-inmate-dies-police-report-sheds-light-on-condition.html#ixzz1jCLqFimm