Island County deputies on paid leave after inmate’s death

COUPEVILLE — Two Island County sheriff’s deputies were put on paid leave Thursday in connection with the death of an inmate at the jail.

The deputies are under investigation for “alleged departmental policy violations,” Sheriff Mark Brown said Friday.

Keaton Farris, 25, was found dead Wednesday in his cell. He had been booked March 26 for investigation of second-degree identity theft in San Juan County. Farris was kept in a cell by himself, Brown said. He was awaiting a mental health evaluation to determine if he could assist with his own defense, according to San Juan County court records.

Brown declined to share additional details about how Farris was found. An autopsy is scheduled to determine Farris’ cause of death, according to the Whidbey News-Times.

“Out of respect for the family, we will not be commenting upon the pending investigation,” Brown said.

The sheriff also expressed “heartfelt sympathy for the families and friends who are suffering from this unfortunate loss.”

Farris had no criminal history before his arrest.

On Jan. 27, a Lopez Island man reported that someone had cashed one of his stolen checks at a local bank. Farris’ driver license number was written on the check.

The next day, Farris’ mother reported to the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office that he’d been missing for five days. He was found safe hours later in Seattle.

Prosecutors filed charges March 2, alleging Farris passed the stolen check for $355.

A warrant for his arrest was issued March 20, records show. He was found a few days later, and a judge Monday ordered that Farris undergo a mental health evaluation to determine if he was competent.

Farris has addresses listed in court papers in Coupeville and on Lopez Island. He attended high school in both school districts.

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

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