Police report Simms attempted to escape upon initial arrest; faked pregnancy to get hospital visit

Contributed Photo/Courtesy GCSO: This is the booking photo taken the night of Jorden Simms’ arrest Dec. 21, 2019. Five days later, she was fatally injured after leaping from a moving transport vehicle.

By Jon Johnson


SAFFORD – The young woman who died while apparently attempting to escape from the custody of the Graham County Sheriff’s Office had attempted to escape police custody from her initial arrest, according to Safford Police reports. 

Jorden Marie Simms, 28, was fatally injured Dec. 26, 2019, while in the custody of the Graham County Adult Detention Facility. According to a Sheriff’s Office release, Simms managed to disengage the jail transport Ford Explorer’s child safety lock, slip out of her handcuffs, ankle restraints, and a belly chain and leaped from the moving vehicle as it was northbound on 20th Avenue while en route to the Mt. Graham Regional Medical Center.

After the incident, Simms was flown to Banner – University Medical Center Tucson, where she was declared brain dead Dec. 27, 2019. On Dec. 28, 2019, an honor walk was performed for Simms as customary for organ donors and she was taken off life support and passed. The Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) is investigating Simms’ death and accusations she made regarding sexual assault. 

Simms was initially arrested Dec. 21, 2019, after officers were dispatched to Walmart at 755 S. 20th Ave. regarding a possible shoplifting situation. Simms had recently been caught shoplifting and was back in the store filling up a basket, according to the report. Officers waited for Simms outside, but she ditched her basket by the Garden Center. However, Simms had a valid $25,000 warrant out of Yavapai County for theft of means of transportation and an officer placed Simms in handcuffs as she “forcefully” resisted and placed her in the security room. In the security room, two small buckets of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream worth less than $10 were removed from Simms’ purse. 

As Simms was being walked to a patrol vehicle, the officer asked if she had any drugs on her and she allegedly said she thought she had some heroin and marijuana in her possession. As the officer went to take off her handcuffs, he noticed one of the cuffs was around her knuckles, as if she had already attempted to slide her hand out of it. Simms checked her pockets but did not located any contraband and said she must have dropped it previously. 

Simms was eventually placed in a patrol vehicle as she was under arrest for her warrant. Once inside the vehicle, however, she began to scream and advised she was having stomach pain associated with her newfound pregnancy, according to a Safford Police report. Paramedics from Lifeline Ambulance arrived at the scene and transported Simms to the hospital, where it was discovered that Simms had “received a surgery years prior that would not allow her to be pregnant,” according to the police report. Simms was then released back into the police officer’s custody and placed back into his patrol vehicle. 

While en route to the jail, Simms advised that she was ill and had to throw up. The officer neglected to stop until inside the jail’s sally port and gave Simms a clear bag. The officer then allowed Simms to exit the vehicle without handcuffs on as she had been continuously convulsing in the car, according to the report. He then gave her the bag and she acted as if she was vomiting. However, when the officer went to secure his duty weapon in his car in order to enter the jail per jail policy, Simms allegedly took off running toward the exit of the sally port. The officer caught her roughly 50 yards later and she was taken into the jail and booked on her warrant. According to the arresting officer, Simms told him that she was scared of going to Yavapai County and she just wanted to run away. The officer later checked the bag he had given her and did not see any signs of any expectorant. 

Contributed Photo/Courtesy Deborah Sanchez: Jorden Marie Simms, 28, was declared brain dead at a Tucson hospital after leaping from a moving jail transport vehicle.

Two days later, on Dec. 23, 2019, Simms made a report to a Safford Police sergeant and claimed that while she was in the hospital room alone with the arresting officer he sexually assaulted her by rubbing her breast and digitally penetrating her vagina. The arresting officer, through his attorney, vehemently denies this accusation. He was placed on paid administrative leave until the conclusion of the investigation.

After the report, a Safford sergeant and captain recovered the clothes Simms was wearing while at the hospital and a female officer examined Simms at Simms’ request and took pictures. 

Simms was then taken to Sierra Vista to have a sexual assault exam performed by a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) forensic nurse. According to the sergeant’s report, Simms’ restraints were checked for fit and readjusted for comfort prior to transportation. While en route, Simms allegedly asked the driver several times to stop and readjust the restraints. However, the transport team neglected to stop and an officer made several checks on the restraints while the transport continued. 

After the exam, Simms was taken back to jail and the sexual assault kit was placed into evidence. The kit was later transported to the DPS’ Crime Lab in Tucson. Results from the kit have not publicly been made known. 

Simms was brought back into the jail at about 4 a.m. on Dec. 24, and that night, at about 7:57 p.m., a report was taken by a Graham County deputy in which Simms alleged she had been sexually assaulted by a jail detention officer when she was brought back to the facility. 

Two days later, on Dec. 26, 2019, Simms was transported to the Advocacy Center in Sierra Vista for another “rape kit” sexual assault examination. Afterward, detention officers were transporting Simms to Mt. Graham Regional Medical Center at the recommendation of a staff member from the Advocacy Center when she opened the door to the Ford Explorer transport vehicle and leaped from the moving vehicle.

The sexual assault allegations and subsequent death incident are under investigation by the DPS.  

According to the Sheriff’s Office, its preliminary investigation showed Simms had convinced detention officers to loosen her ankle restraints and that she had used shower gel likely obtained at the Advocacy Center restroom to help slip out of her handcuffs, belly chain, and ankle restraints. The Ford Explorer does have interior door handles and utilizes a simple child safety lock, which was found to be in the off position. The Sheriff’s Office theorized that Simms disengaged the lock while being taken in and out of the vehicle.  

According to a draft of a Notice of Claim from attorneys representing Simms’ family members, the attorneys say Graham County is liable for Simms’ death because she fell out of a vehicle in which she should have been secured and locked in place.

“At the time she was transported from the Sierra Vista Advocacy Center to Mount Graham Regional Medical Hospital (Center), Jorden was placed in ankle restraints and handcuffs with a belly chain,” the notice of claim reads. “In addition, she should have been seat belted in her seat in the police vehicle with the doors securely locked. Within just a few blocks from the Mount Graham Regional Medical Hospital (Center), Jorden’s seatbelt was unbuckled, her ankle restraints and handcuffs with a belly chain were removed, and she was ejected from the vehicle with the doors admittedly not being locked. She sustained fatal injuries despite the speed limit being just 35 mph.”