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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Inmate dies after Taser hit in Benton County

Spokane man imprisoned for 2005 deadly crash

From Staff And Wire Reports

A Spokane man imprisoned for killing three family members in a car crash near Post Falls seven years ago died Tuesday night after being shocked with a Taser at the Benton County Jail.

Authorities said Kevin T. Culp, 29, had an unknown medical problem on Dec. 17 and was placed in an isolation cell so jail nurses could watch him.

He later became combative and struggled with officers, including biting them. He was shocked with a Taser, which appeared to have little effect, according to reports.

Jailers then placed him in a restraint chair.

About 15 minutes later, staff discovered he was unresponsive and called for emergency medical help. He died eight days later – Christmas Day – at Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland.

Culp was in the Benton County Jail as a contract inmate for the state Department of Corrections, where he was on a courtesy hold for Idaho, according to The Tri-City Herald.

Culp had a medical condition that made him prone to seizures, according to earlier Spokesman-Review reports. He was imprisoned for two felonies. Culp was first convicted on one count of vehicular manslaughter in the July 2005 crash near Post Falls that killed three people, including Spokane Valley resident Henrietta Lewis, 40; Lewis’ sister, Tonia Lewis, 30, of Pendleton, Ore.; and Tonia’s 9-month-old son Ebin Lewis. Three others were injured.

An investigation determined that Culp suffered a seizure while driving and caused the head-on collision with the minivan driven by Henrietta Lewis. Culp told Idaho State Police after the accident that he didn’t have enough money to buy drugs to prevent his seizures, according to newspaper reports.

Culp also was convicted in the 2004 accidental shooting death of a friend, 19-year-old Cedric Sykes.

Culp had a loaded gun that was used as a prop in a photo shoot. Culp did not know the gun was loaded and shot Sykes in the neck.

The Tri-City Special Investigative Unit will conduct an independent investigation of Culp’s death. The Benton County Sheriff’s office will also do an internal review. An autopsy is scheduled this week.