Spokane jail inmate who died had called for help

SPOKANE — The inmate who died Sunday in the Spokane County Jail has been identified as a man who had called 911 for help with a drug overdose because he was a diabetic and had ingested methamphetamine.

The Spokesman-Review reported Tuesday that Christopher J. Parker, 33, was evaluated by fire department paramedics who didn’t feel he needed to go to a hospital. Instead, they turned him over to police, and he was jailed on an outstanding arrest warrant.

In jail, authorities say Parker became uncooperative and Corrections deputies shocked him with a Taser and put him in a restraint chair where he stopped breathing.

The Washington State Patrol is investigating the death.

The incident began early Sunday, when Parker called 911 to report that he was diabetic and had taken meth. He was checked out by paramedics.

“I know the paramedics who evaluated him didn’t feel as if he had signs or symptoms that required urgent transport to the hospital,” said assistant Spokane Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer. “At that point he was released into the care of the SPD.”

At the jail, he reportedly became uncooperative, and corrections deputies used a Taser to shock him and placed him in a restraint chair.

After that, deputies noticed he wasn’t breathing, but efforts to revive him were unsuccessful, the Washington State Patrol said.

Schaeffer said it is possible that paramedics should have taken Parker to the hospital, and the fire department is evaluating the incident.

“If there is something here where we made a clinical judgment that was wrong . we will own it and make it better,” Schaeffer said.

Parker’s mother, Christina Higgins, who lives in Arkansas, said she was upset because family members weren’t immediately notified of Parker’s death.

“There is no reason why they did not notify us. No reason whatsoever. I’m mad,” Higgins said.

She said she was told the Washington State Patrol couldn’t speak for the Sheriff’s Office, but that WSP detectives were cleared to notify family members had they encountered any during their investigation.

State Trooper Jeff Sevigney said Parker had a lengthy criminal history. He was arrested in 1998 and convicted of felony assault after breaking a man’s arm. He also has convictions for violating protection orders in 2004 and 2007. As such, there were multiple entries in court records listing next-of-kin information.

Sevigney said that information was forwarded to the Spokane County Medical Examiner’s Office, which is in charge of family notification after a body has been transported there.

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