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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Inmate who died in Spokane County Jail didn’t get care, family says

The family of a woman who died in the Spokane County Jail earlier this week said Tammy Heinen did not receive the medical care she needed before her arrest Sunday on an outstanding warrant.

“To me, it’s like anyone who comes in there with a drug history is nonessential,” said Heinen’s mother, Barbara Heinen. “My daughter was essential to me.”

Family members said the 44-year-old had recently been diagnosed with a leg infection and was taking antibiotics. Her boyfriend was on the way to the hospital with her when she was picked up on the warrant, they said.

Kim Heinen, Tammy’s sister, said Thursday her sister was forced to walk to the squad car despite using a wheelchair because of her ailment.

“She’s more than just her court records,” Kim Heinen said. “She had a great sense of humor. She would give you the shirt off her back.”

Spokane police spokeswoman Teresa Fuller confirmed Thursday that Heinen was arrested because of an outstanding warrant for a parole violation. She said the officer who made the arrest approached Heinen as a suspicious person, then checked her information before arresting her on the warrant.

Tammy Heinen leaves behind an 8-year-old daughter, who is being cared for by her grandmother. Barbara Heinen said she wants answers for her granddaughter’s sake.

Patrol officers handle medical situations on a case-by-case basis, Fuller said. If it is determined there is a medical emergency, police will call medics to inspect a suspect on-scene before transporting them to either the hospital or the jail, she said. If it is not determined to be an emergency, police will take the suspect to the jail for a medical evaluation, she said. At that time, jail staff may ask the police to take the person in custody to the hospital, Fuller said.

Heinen is the fourth person to die in the Spokane County Jail since May 4. The Spokane County medical examiner has not yet released a cause of death for Heinen, pending the results of toxicology tests. Court records show Heinen previously used heroin, but family members said they believed she had kicked her addiction.

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