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Sun, Feb. 23

Jail inmate who claimed sex assault jumps out of car, dies

PHOENIX – Arizona authorities are investigating the death of a jail inmate who made her way out of several restraints and jumped out of a car not long after alleging she had been sexually assaulted by an officer.

The state Department of Public Safety said it was investigating both the sexual assault claim and the Dec. 28 death of 28-year-old Jorden Simms, who suffered a severe head injury in eastern Arizona.

Her family said in a Facebook post that it has many questions but is no longer granting media interviews. Her aunt, Crystal Barnett, said Simms had struggled with drug addiction “and has paid dearly for her addiction."

“A beautiful mother, daughter, sister and niece gone too soon," Barnett wrote.

Safford police arrested Simms on Dec. 21 on shoplifting charges. Police say she also had a felony warrant for her arrest in a different part of the state.

While in jail two days later, Simms reported having been sexually assaulted by a Safford police officer.

Police Chief Joe Brugman said in a statement that the officer was placed on paid administrative leave the next day and remained on leave as of Tuesday.

Simms also separately alleged that a sheriff’s detention officer in Graham County had sexually assaulted her while searching her. Authorities drove Simms to a center for an exam but were told to take her to a hospital.

That’s when police say Simms somehow removed her handcuffs, belly restraint and ankle chain in the backseat of a vehicle driven by a detention officer. The Graham County Sheriff’s Office says she jumped out of the moving car. She suffered serious injuries and was eventually flown to a trauma center in Tucson but died within two days.

Authorities haven't said how Simms was able to escape so many restraints but noted that they found a small tube of hair gel in the backseat where Simms had been and that the child restraint lock wasn't in place on the door she jumped from.

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