A Washington man died in jail, soon after paramedics examined him for a methamphetamine overdose but released him into police custody. Although the cause of death was not immediately disclosed, the diabetic prisoner was Tased and confined in a restraint chair just before he died.
Christopher Parker, 33, called 911 because he feared that he had overdosed on methamphetamine. Police and paramedics responded.
Parker was examined at the scene but not hospitalized. Paramedics released him into police custody and he was arrested on an outstanding warrant.
"They did evaluate him for possible ingestion of an unknown substance," said Assistant Spokane Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer. "I know the paramedics who evaluated him didn't feel as if he had signs or symptoms that required urgent transport to the hospital. At that point he was released into the care of police.
After he was booked into the Spokane County Jail, guards Tasered Parker and confined him in a restraint chair because he was "uncooperative."
Some time later, guards noticed that Parker wasn't breathing. At 5:11 a.m., they requested an ambulance for someone having an unspecified medical problem. "That call was upgraded at 5:22 a.m. to a more critical call reporting that the patient was unconscious," said Schaeffer.
Efforts to revive Parker were unsuccessful, according to the Washington State Patrol, which was investigating his death. Guards canceled the ambulance at 5:55 a.m.
"Looking through the retrospective glasses it's easy to say yes," Parker should have been transported to a hospital, admitted Schaeffer. He could not say definitively, however, because he did not yet have all the information the paramedics considered in making their decision.
"I don't know what the dialogue was. If someone says they don't want to go to the hospital and they are not exhibiting symptoms or signs . . . but it's too early to say."
"We will not make excuses," said Schaeffer. "If there is something here where we made a clinical judgment that was wrong . . . we will own it and make it better."
Adding insult to injury, authorities did not notify Parker's family of his death but reported on the jail website that he was released due to "death."
"There is no reason why they did not notify us. No reason whatsoever," said Parker's mother, Christina Higgins."I'm mad!"
Nobody could explain why Parker's family was not notified of his death but they quickly removed the website posting.
"When we learned about the posting under Mr. Parker's name on our website, we took steps to remove it and make sure this does not happen again," said Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich. "This should not have happened and we want to express our sincere apologies to Mr. Parker's family for any pain this caused."
Source: The Spokane-Review
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