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Deceased inmate should have been in hospital not jail

By Jeff Humphrey, KXLY4 Reporter , jeffhu@kxly.com
Published On: Feb 25 2013 05:36:34 PM CST
Updated On: Feb 25 2013 08:49:07 PM CST
Christopher Parker
SPOKANE, Wash. -

Spokane fire officials said Monday that a man who died in the Spokane County Jail over the weekend should have been in the emergency room at the hospital and not behind bars.

Christopher James Parker, 33, did have an active warrant for his arrest, but Parker, who was a diabetic, was apparently suffering from a drug overdose. So he called 9-1-1 for help early Sunday morning.

Shortly after 3 a.m. a Spokane police officer went to his residence in the 2100 block of W. 4th Ave. to check Parker.

"A Spokane police officer did contact the individual. He admitted to the officer that he had ingested methamphetamine. He also indicated he was a diabetic," Washington State Patrol Trooper Jeff Sevigney said.

Paramedics were also called to Parker's residence and conducted a medical evaluation of him.

"They evaluated him; they determined based on their physical findings that he did not need to be transported to the hospital and he was released in the care of the police department," Spokane Assistant Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer said.

However, once he was taken to the jail things escalated with Parker. Deputies, according to Sevigney, had to resort to using a taser to gain control of him. He was subsequently placed into a restraint chair, lost consciousness and later died.

On Monday Schaeffer said the fire department is now looking into the handling of the medical evaluation of Parker that cleared him to go to jail instead of the emergency room.

"If indeed this patient had ingested that methamphetamine, while he did not display any critical symptoms that were identified by the paramedic company, obviously there's a concern we might have missed something and now looking through retrospectively, we probably did," Schaeffer said.

"Now all I can do at this point is try to make this situation a case for learning for us to go forward, make sure this doesn't happen again, and try to improve the system,"he added.

An autopsy was performed on Parker Monday by the medical examiner. The cause of death is listed as "pending further studies."

The Spokane Investigative Regional Response Team, which is made of multiple law enforcement agencies from across the Inland Northwest, is investigating Parker's death.

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