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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Medical examiner explains cause of two Spokane County Jail deaths

The Spokane County Medical Examiner’s Office this week released the causes of death of two inmates who died in jail earlier this year.  (Dan Pelle/The Spokesman-Review)

The Spokane County Medical Examiner’s Office this week explained how two jail inmates died earlier this year.

Charles Francis Boardman and Kyle Robert McLaurine, both inmates of the Spokane County Jail, died in late spring.

Boardman, 37, was booked into the jail on May 28 on suspicion of using a controlled substance in public, obstructing a police officer, resisting arrest and making false statements.

He was found unconscious in his cell on May 31. He wasn’t breathing and lacked a pulse, but wasn’t declared dead until he’d been transported to Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center.

The medical examiner’s office on Wednesday said Boardman died of “aspiration pneumonia due to the combined effects of alcohol withdrawal and seizure disorder of unclear etiology.”

Aspiration pneumonia occurs when an individual inhales food, water or other substances into their lungs, and etiology is a synonym for “cause.”

McLaurine, 23, was booked into the jail on June 3 on charges of unlawful imprisonment and malicious mischief related to an incident at the Walmart in Airway Heights.

The medical examiner’s office says McLaurine suffered a “sudden cardiac death of uncertain etiology.” That means McLaurine died of an abnormal heart rhythm and it’s unclear what caused it.

Spokane County spokesman Patrick Bell said Boardman and McLaurine’s deaths are under review, but otherwise declined to comment.

Deaths have been common at the jail for decades, and some have had major legal and financial repercussions for the county. Since 2000, Spokane County has paid more than $4.4 million in settlements related to jail deaths and injuries.

The jail’s private medical provider, NaphCare, also has faced major lawsuits.

A federal jury in July awarded $27 million to the family of Cindy Lou Hill, a woman who died in her cell of a ruptured intestine. The jury determined that NaphCare is responsible for $26.5 million of that amount.

Shortly after the verdict, NaphCare asked Spokane County for more money so it could hire more staff.

In January, the Spokane County Commission increased the company’s nearly $8 million annual contract by $354,000, which NaphCare said it would use to hire more nurses, dentists and doctors.