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Restrained arrestee choked on vomit, died in Spokane jail booking area

The Spokane County Medical Examiner’s Office has determined the death of a man in May in the Spokane County Jail was a homicide.

Lorenzo Hayes, 37, died when he choked on vomit while restrained in a prone position as a result of methamphetamine toxicity, the medical examiner’s office announced in a news release.

There is a video surveillance camera in the booking area, and investigators have footage of the incident, said Washington State Patrol Trooper Jeff Sevigney. The video has not been released to the public.

The death is under investigation by the Spokane Investigative Regional Response team, with the WSP as the lead agency.

Hayes was brought to the jail by Spokane police officers, but Hayes was uncooperative and refused to get out of the car, Sevigney said.

“Basically he didn’t want to walk, so jail staff carried him in,” he said.

Once inside the booking area, Hayes refused to stand.

“They laid him down on the floor to frisk him,” he said.

Hayes still was on the ground, handcuffed and yelling, while a jail nurse attempted to evaluate him, Sevigney said. Jail staff moved him to a restraint chair to allow the nurse to examine him better. Not long after that, the staff noticed that Hayes was in medical distress and pulled him out of the chair to perform CPR, Sevigney said.

Hayes was arrested early May 13 on suspicion of violating a no-contact order and unlawful possession of a firearm after he was found outside the home of a woman he was not allowed to have contact with. He reportedly had a .22 rifle with him.

Attempts made to reach Jail Commander John McGrath were unsuccessful Friday.

Four people have died in the jail in the last three months. Besides Hayes, John Everitt, 46, died May 4 of an apparent suicide while alone in a cell. Scott M. Stevens, 53, was found unresponsive in his cell, on June 12. And on July 13, Tammy Sue Heinen, 44, also was found unresponsive in her cell.


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