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

Fifth Spokane County Jail inmate dies in 12 months

A cell at the Spokane County Jail, with a second bunk added to increase capacity, is shown in this Oct. 24, 2016, file photo. On Wednesday night, an inmate died in his cell in what authorities described as a “possible assault” by his cellmate. The incident marks the fifth death in the downtown detention facility in the past 12 months. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

A Spokane County Jail inmate died in his cell Wednesday night, possibly as the result of an attack by his cellmate, authorities said.

The incident marks the fifth death in the downtown detention facility in the past 12 months. Since June 15, 2017, three inmates have hanged themselves with bedsheets, and one man died in the jail’s booking area of causes that remain to be determined.

According to a news release from the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office, two men were housed in a cell on Wednesday night, and one had requested to move to another cell because his cellmate was acting “crazy.”

At about 8:35 p.m., when a corrections officer entered the cell to accommodate the first inmate’s request, he noticed the other inmate lying facedown on his bunk, not moving, the sheriff’s office said.

The officer called for medical assistance, but efforts to revive the inmate were unsuccessful and he was pronounced dead a short time later, the sheriff’s office said.

Neither inmate’s name was released. The Spokane County Medical Examiner’s Office is tasked with determining the cause and manner of death.

“Preliminary information gained during the investigation indicates the inmate may have experienced a medical emergency, but nothing at this early stage of the investigation has been ruled out,” the sheriff’s office said.

Sgt. Tom Hill, a spokesman for Spokane County Detention Services, said the two inmates were housed on Two West, the so-called “classification floor” of the jail where inmates are typically held for short periods after booking. From Two West, inmates can be moved to other wings of the jail that are specially equipped to treat mental illness or manage violent offenders.

The recent suicides of Brandon Ryans, Chris Rogers and Patrick Flynn have come under scrutiny by their families, who believe the deaths could have been prevented. The medical examiner’s office has not finished investigating the March 1 death of 52-year-old David Good, who had been homeless in Spokane.

Another spate of deaths occurred at the jail in 2015. Five inmates died between January and July of that year, including 46-year-old John Everitt, who managed to hang himself with a bed sheet despite being on suicide watch in an observation cell. At the time, the Spokane Human Rights Commission called for a federal investigation.