GCSO releases statement on Jorden Simms’ death

Jon Johnson File Photo: The Graham County Sheriff’s Office has issued a news release detailing the events surrounding the death of inmate Jorden Marie Simms.

Staff Reports

SAFFORD – The following statement is a news release in its entirety released by the Graham County Sheriff’s Office on Sunday, Dec. 29, regarding the actions that led up to the death of inmate Jorden Marie Simms, 28. The situation regarding Simms was first reported by the Gila Herald at about 12:30 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 28. That article (Gila Herald – Graham County Jail Inmate brain dead at UMC after transport incident) was viewed more than 40,000 times on Saturday.

News Release Simms

“On Dec. 21, 2019, Jorden Marie Simms (age 28) was arrested by a Safford Police Officer and was booked into the Graham County Adult Detention Facility for a felony warrant from Yavapai County.

On Dec. 23, 2019, Jorden Simms was transported from the Graham County Adult Detention Facility by Safford Police Department personnel for a specialized exam due to an allegation made by her against a Safford officer.

On Dec. 24, 2019, at approximately 4 a.m., Jorden Simms was returned to the Graham County Adult Detention Facility. That same day, at approximately 7:57 p.m., an initial report was taken by a Graham County Deputy where Jorden Simms alleged she had been sexually assaulted by a Graham County Detention Officer while being dressed out when being brought back to the facility at 4 a.m.

On Dec. 26, 2019, it was arranged to have Jorden Simms transported to an Advocacy Center located in Sierra Vista for a specialized examination. The transport was done by a deputy and detention sergeant, from the Graham County Sheriff’s Office.

On Dec. 26, 2019, the initial exam was completed and based on a recommendation by a medical professional at the center, that would require utilizing equipment not available at the Advocacy Center, arrangements were made to take Jorden Simms to Mt. Graham Regional Hospital before returning to the Graham County Adult Detention Facility.

Contributed Photo/Courtesy Deborah Sanchez: Jorden Marie Simms, 28, was declared brain dead early Friday morning and was later removed from life support and donated her organs.

As the patrol vehicle, a Ford Explorer, was north on 20th Avenue, at the South 1900 block, approaching Mt. Graham Regional Hospital, Jorden Simms opened the door (rear driver’s side) and exited the vehicle. The deputy involved in the transport radioed for assistance and law enforcement from Safford, Pima, Thatcher and medical personnel responded to the scene.

Jorden Simms was transported to the Mt. Graham Regional Hospital with life-threatening injuries to include a severe head injury. She was later flown to Banner – University Medical Center Tucson. Jorden Simms was later pronounced deceased at Banner University – Medical Center Tucson.

The investigation to this point has shown the following:

Jorden Simms had removed her handcuffs, belly chain and ankle restraints before opening the door. It was learned staff had loosened the ankle restraints due to Jorden Simms complaining they were rubbing her ankles causing pain. A small tube of shower gel with the cap open was found in the back seat where Jorden Simms had been seated. The shower gel has been confirmed as the same type used by the Advocacy Center where she was examined and this same type of shower gel is kept in the bathroom Jorden Simms used prior to being brought back to Graham County. The handcuffs and chain were located on the seat in the patrol vehicle and the ankle restraints on the floorboard when the patrol vehicle was photographed. Her jail-issued shoes were also on the floorboard along with the found shower gel tube. It was also discovered the childproof locks used to prevent the rear doors from being open from the inside was switched to the off position on the side she had been placed on (both when taken to Sierra Vista and returning to Graham County, the driver’s side rear.) The passenger side child lock was found to be in the on position. Jorden Simms had been seated in the rear caged area alone and law enforcement personnel were seated in the front of the vehicle, driver and passenger front seat.

The initial investigation at the 20th Avenue location was conducted by the Arizona Department of Public Safety, assisted by the Graham County Sheriff’s Office. The continuing investigation into the events involving Jorden Simms will be conducted by the Arizona Department of Public Safety Investigation Division out of Phoenix.

Note: Many of the recent social media posts and claims being circulated are unfounded, as is often the case when opinions, claims and random posts are made before an investigation is completed or is on-going. These events were and will continue to be investigated.”

– Graham County Sheriff’s Office

On Saturday, Safford Police Chief Joe Brugman issued the following news release.

“On Dec. 21, 2019, Jorden Simms was contacted and taken into custody by the Safford Police Department for shoplifting.  Simms also had an outstanding warrant for her arrest from Yavapai County, which was theft and drug-related, with a bond of $25,000. She was booked into the Graham County Jail. 

On Dec. 23, 2019, in the evening, the suspect (Simms) made an allegation against the arresting officer. Due to the nature of the allegation, internal and criminal investigation processes were initiated, and the Safford Officer was placed on administrative leave effective Dec. 24, 2019, per policy.

Safford Police Department contacted the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS), requesting that they conduct an investigation regarding the allegation.

This investigation has begun, and the Safford Police Department is committed to seeing it through to its final outcome.“