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Inmate's death after allegedly jumping from patrol vehicle raises questions

The woman's family demands answers after she accused law enforcement of sexual assault before her death.

SAFFORD, Ariz — The Graham County Sheriff's Office is giving a timeline of events that they say led up to the death of jail inmate Jorden Simms on Dec. 26. 

This follows a viral post on Facebook by family members asking for answers and justice. 

According to GCSO and the Safford Police Department, Simms, 28, was arrested by a Safford PD officer on Dec. 21 for shoplifting and was booked into the Graham County Adult Detention Facility for a drug/theft-related felony warrant out of Yavapai County. 

GCSO said Simms made a complaint against a Safford PD officer and was transported by Safford PD personnel for a "specialized exam" related to the allegation. 

In a press release from the Safford Chief of Police Joe Brugman says that per policy, the officer involved was placed on administrative leave, but has provided no details as to the nature of the allegations. 

On Dec. 24, GCSO said Simms returned to the Graham County jail and on that night, she made a report alleging she had been sexually assaulted by a Graham County Detention Officer when she was initially brought back in the building that morning. 

On Dec. 26,  Simms was transported to an Advocacy Center located in Sierra Vista for a specialized examination, GCSO said. A deputy and detention sergeant drove Simms in a Ford Explorer patrol vehicle.

According to GCSO, after the initial exam at the advocacy center, a medical professional said Simms required equipment that wasn't available there. She was then transported to Mt. Graham Regional Hospital, but before arriving, GCSO said Simms opened the rear driver's side door and "exited the vehicle." 

Simms suffered a severe head injury and was flown to Banner-University Medical Center in Tucson where she later died. 

GCSO said Simms removed her handcuffs, belly chain and ankle restraints before opening the door of the vehicle. They learned that staff had loosened the ankle restraints because Simms complained they were causing pain. 

The officers transporting Simms were both in the front seats while Simms was alone in the back caged area, GCSO said. The childproof lock was off on the side where Simms had jumped out, GCSO said.

The Graham County Sheriff's Office ended their release with the following statement:

"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.”

A post on Facebook from Simms' aunt went viral on Dec. 27. In that post, Crystal Barnett said Simms reported she was raped by an officer and that the rape test Simms had in Sierra Vista has returned positive. That assertion has not been confirmed by law enforcement. 

Barnett said Simms also reported a detention officer sodomized her with an unknown object while searching her at the jail. This has not been confirmed by law enforcement. 

"We have been advised by legal counsel to refrain from creating additional posts, making comments to existing posts or granting any interviews at this time," Barnett wrote in her post.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety confirmed Monday that its detectives are investigating Simms' allegations and in-custody death. 

DPS added that the investigation is in its early stages and officials cannot provide more specific information yet. 

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