No charges in death of Snohomish County Jail inmate

EVERETT — Prosecutors have decided the evidence doesn’t warrant criminal charges against anyone for the July death of a severely allergic and asthmatic Snohomish County Jail inmate who collapsed in his cell after eating breakfast.

Snohomish County Prosecutor Mark Roe met with the mother of Michael Saffioti on Wednesday afternoon to explain his reasoning.

“I’m not going to file any criminal charges because I don’t believe a crime was committed,” Roe said later.

The decision was made after prosecutors reviewed a death investigation report compiled by the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office Major Crimes Unit. The report is more than 400 pages long.

The Saffioti case file was forwarded to the county prosecutor’s office with no criminal referral, sheriff’s officials said Wednesday.

That means the investigation did not turn up evidence that prompted detectives to believe a crime occurred. It was up to prosecutors to decide whether any charges would be filed.

Roe’s staff plans to help the family obtain a copy of the police investigation through state public records law.

“If (the family) brings forth any additional information or wants us to consider other information, we can always reopen the case,” Roe said.

The sheriff’s office now will begin an internal investigation to determine whether policies governing jail operations were followed. That is standard procedure after the prosecuting attorney completes his review of the case.

Rose Saffioti, Michael’s mother, said she is eager to review the sheriff’s investigation. She has for months questioned the appropriateness of the sheriff’s office investigating the death at the jail it operates.

“I’m really disappointed and I made that pretty clear,” she said after Wednesday’s meeting.

Michael Saffioti, 22, of Mukilteo, surrendered to Lynnwood police July 2 on a misdemeanor warrant for marijuana possession. He brought along a bag of medications he needed to control severe food allergies and respiratory problems he had lived with since his early childhood.

Saffioti died July 3 from bronchial asthma, according to the Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office. Severe allergic reaction to milk products was listed as a contributing factor initially, but Rose Saffioti said after Wednesday’s meeting that fact didn’t appear to have been part of the final report.

“They pretty much discount an allergic reaction,” she said.

Among inmates, Michael Saffioti had been nicknamed “Bubble Boy” during a previous incarceration because his food had to be separately prepared and wrapped in plastic to avoid trace contaminants.

Rose Saffioti has hired Anne Bremner, a renowned Seattle attorney, to help learn more about the circumstances leading up to her son’s death. Bremner said she believes more could have been done to save Michael Saffioti.

“The bottom line is they didn’t get him help and he died,” she said.

“Even if asthma was more of the contributing factor than the food allergies, it is still criminal negligence,” Bremner said.

Since Saffioti’s death, several people who were jail inmates at the time of his death have made statements to his family and attorney about what they saw happen behind bars.

One man told them that Saffioti collapsed in his cell after breakfast, which included oatmeal. He said Saffioti was allowed access to his inhaler after reporting breathing problems. However, the inmate said a corrections officer took the inhaler from Saffioti and accused him of faking when Saffioti continued to press a button in his cell, asking for medical attention.

Another inmate told Bremner that he saw a corrections officer turn off the emergency alarm because he became annoyed with Saffioti’s repeated pleas for help.

A third inmate estimated that medical attention was delayed by 10 minutes.

The death investigation report was not made public Wednesday.

In 2008, Saffioti, then 17, was given an alternative sentence for minor offenses that required out-patient drug treatment but spared him a six-day term inside a juvenile facility because of his respiratory problems. At the time, a doctor wrote a letter saying Saffioti had “multiple potential life-threatening chronic illnesses, objectively documented” which required environmental controls unlikely to be found behind bars.

Bremner said Saffioti was supposed to be in a medical unit at the jail during the July incarceration, but wasn’t.

She said she is eager to review the sheriff’s office investigation.

“This is a search for the truth and that’s what we are doing,” she said.

Eric Stevick: stevick@heraldnet.com; 425-339-3446

More in Local News

Longboarders from near and far hit the trail in Arlington

The Centennial Sk8 Festival was serious competition for some and just for fun for others.

Signs show the rates for using the express toll lanes for traffic headed southbound on Interstate 405, Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016, in Bothell, Wash. Gov. Jay Inslee announced plans Tuesday to try to decrease congestion on I-405 in answer to commuter complaints that the new express lane tolling system is making traffic worse. The governor said he would not be shutting down the tolling system as some people have called for. But the state transportation department is making plans to add new northbound general purpose lanes to ease some of the congestion and also plan to make it easier to move into and out of the express lanes. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
After a 2-year trial, are I-405’s toll lanes here to stay?

Lawmakers will decide whether to keep them or end the experiment and try something else.

Weary drivers using toll lanes say they have little choice

Congestion continues to be a tedious reality for commuters on I-405, which is as clogged as ever.

Council passes six-month moratorium on safe injection sites

Proposal by County Councilman Nate Nehring passed unanimously.

Terrace woman held following collision in Everett

The three occupants in vehicle were transported to a local hospital in serious condition.

Information sought on drive-by shooting in Everett

Debris from an apparent crash, evidence of gunfire found in the 2800 block of California Street.

Crews recover body of man who fell over Wallace Falls

The area where the man fell is called Sky Valley Lookout, 2.4 miles from the parking lot.

Herald photos of the week

A weekly collection of The Herald’s best images by staff photographers and… Continue reading

This week’s Herald Super Kid is Nathan Nicholson of Snohomish High School. (Dan Bates / The Herald)
‘The future is biotech,’ but for now he’s busy with everything

Snohomish senior Nathan Nicholson is a student leader and media master.

Most Read