The city of Spokane has set aside $250,000 to defend itself against a $6.5 million claim by the family of a man who choked to death on his own vomit while being booked into the Spokane County Jail in May.
Lorenzo Hayes, 37, was a father of seven arrested by Spokane police on suspicion of violating a no-contact order and illegally possessing a firearm. He died after he was placed in a restraint chair due to uncooperative behavior, investigators said. Video from the jail showing his death has not been released.
The family filed a separate, corresponding lawsuit against Spokane County in October. On Monday, the Spokane City Council unanimously approved a $250,000 contract with the law firm of Keating, Bucklin and McCormack to provide outside counsel. Lawyers with the city attorney’s office also are working on the claim.
The claim alleges officers at the jail “turned a blind eye to his obvious medical needs” and “restrained him in a manner that is known to compromise breathing.”
The Washington State Patrol investigated Hayes’ death and has forwarded its findings to the Spokane County prosecutor, who will decide whether to charge any of the officers involved with crimes.
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