Inmate’s death at county jail is 9th since 2010

EVERETT — A 24-year-old Everett woman died early Monday morning at the Snohomish County Jail, the ninth inmate death reported there since 2010.

The woman had been in the jail from Jan. 3 until Jan. 6 for a domestic-violence incident. She was released Jan. 6 and booked again early Jan. 7 for violating an order related to the same incident, records show.

That means she was locked up for about a week before she died.

The death comes as Sheriff Ty Trenary has been working to improve conditions and medical care at the jail, including placing limits on bookings for arrestees with serious health problems or mental illness.

Everett police arrested the woman and booked her into the jail on Jan. 3 for investigation of domestic-violence malicious mischief in connection with property damage at her boyfriend’s house.

The woman was released from the jail Jan. 6 and arrested again hours later on allegations of violating a no-contact order, resisting arrest and obstructing officers, records show.

Officials on Monday did not release the woman’s name because her family was being notified of the death. Her booking information appeared in the county jail log Monday morning but later was pulled from the website.

The Herald obtained reports about the woman’s Jan. 3 and Jan. 7 arrests through a public records request to the Everett Police Department.

Early Monday morning, the woman was being held in the jail’s medical unit and was being checked every half-hour, said Shari Ireton, spokeswoman for the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, which runs the jail.

Court records show the woman had admitted heroin use to police as recently as Jan. 3 and had been arrested at least twice before for drug-related offenses.

Privacy laws prevented the sheriff’s office from disclosing why the woman was being kept in the medical unit, Ireton said.

People who work at the jail say inmates who are undergoing drug withdrawals may be placed in the medical unit for closer monitoring.

The inmate was found unresponsive about 1 a.m., Ireton said. Resuscitation efforts were unsuccessful. Her body was taken to the Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office, which will determine cause of death, a process that sometimes takes months.

The woman had undergone medical screening when she was booked, Ireton said.

In addition to a police death investigation, the sheriff’s office plans a separate morbidity review to take a clinical look at what happened. The morbidity review is something new at the jail, and is a result of a 2013 assessment by a team of national corrections experts. The sheriff’s office asked the team to make recommendations to improve operations.

The 100-page assessment report was made public in November. Trenary, who’s been open about the need for reforming jail operations, also is seeking an electronic records system for tracking inmate health, and has hired an on-call doctor, among other efforts.

The woman who died Monday had been issued a domestic-violence no-contact order after an arrest on Jan. 3. In that incident, officers were summoned to the woman’s boyfriend’s house because she reportedly was smashing items by swinging a vacuum or other heavy object. She was booked and then released Jan. 6, then arrested again about 3 a.m. Jan. 7.

Everett police had been called to the woman’s boyfriend’s house at 8:18 p.m. Jan. 6.

The woman’s boyfriend, 26, had picked her up from jail and brought her to his house to collect her TV and other belongings, records show. Another person at the house called 911 because the woman was not supposed to be at the house.

Her boyfriend told police he was unaware of the court order and did not want it enforced. The woman was not found at the house at the time.

Police went back to the house just after 3 a.m. Jan. 7. Someone called 911 and reported seeing the woman trying to break into the house through a window. Officers searched the home again, and the woman allegedly barricaded herself behind a door. The 110-pound woman reportedly resisted arrest and struggled with officers inside the house. One officer wrote in his report that he finally had to grab her by her hair to get control of her because he was worried about hurting her due to their size difference. She was handcuffed and placed into a patrol car.

As officers were collecting statements from other people at the house, the woman allegedly slipped out of one of her handcuffs and tried to escape from the police car.

She again struggled with officers. Police then handcuffed her again and placed a “hobble cord” around her ankles out of concern she was trying to kick them, the reports say. She was booked into the jail.

The woman “had no signs of injury and gave no indication of having been injured,” according to the arrest report.

In his statement to police on Jan. 6, the boyfriend wrote, “I didn’t know the cops were coming and I didn’t intend on any of this to happen. All she wanted was to get her TV and leave.”

In the Jan 3. reports, officers wrote that they found drug paraphernalia in the house. The woman allegedly also told them she had used heroin earlier that day.

The woman had no felony history in Washington, court records show. She had been arrested Nov. 11 and Dec. 9 for investigation of drug possession, in addition to a Dec. 9 allegation of possessing illegal drugs as an inmate. No charges were filed.

As the death investigation gets under way, the county already faces pending legal claims from the families of two inmates who were in their 20s when they died at the jail. Both claims allege that jail staff denied the inmates basic medical care.

Lyndsey Elizabeth Lason, 27, suffocated at the jail in 2011 when her infected lungs slowly filled with fluid. Other inmates said Lason had pleaded for medical care. A $10 million wrongful death claim has been filed.

Michael Saffioti, 22, died at the jail in July 2012 from bronchial asthma triggered by severe allergies. His family also has filed a $10 million claim. Saffioti was in jail for a Lynnwood marijuana possession charge.

The most-recent jail death, Kathleen Ann Swann-Deutsch, 51, of Woodinville, came in July and was attributed to natural causes related to chronic alcohol abuse, officials said. Two days before her death, she’d been booked on suspicion of drunken driving, after first being cleared by the hospital. Her blood-alcohol content at the time of arrest was nearly four times the legal limit to drive.

Other inmate deaths in recent years have been attributed to causes including methamphetamine overdose, heart problems and suicide. Bill Williams, 59, died in 2012 after being zapped with a Taser during a struggle with corrections deputies.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com.

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