The Spokane County Medical Examiner issued a cause of death for an inmate who died at the county jail in February.
Christopher James Parker’s death was primarily cause because of a meth overdose, according to the examiner, but restraints used while he was in custody and complications from diabetes also contributed to his death.
Officers tased and restrained Parker, saying he became combative in the jail. Because restraints contributed to his death, the medical examiner classified this as a homicide.
Parker’s family admits he had problems but say he was getting back on the right path.
“He wasn’t afraid to ask for help. That’s what he did. He called them and asked for help,” Daniel Parker, Christopher’s father, said.
His family says Parker pleaded for someone to take care of him the morning he died. He told first responders he took meth, but he was medically cleared by the Spokane Fire Department and booked into jail.
Witnesses report Parker became unruly during the process. He was tased and put into a restraint chair. He died soon after.
The fire department defends the way Parker’s call was handled.
“We didn’t wait for the outcome, or the report from the coroner. We drove right into the incident and eliminated the possibility that there was reckless behavior. There was none,” Asst. Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer said.
The fire department says Parker was alert when crews responded. Paramedics say they evaluated him and he met the criteria to be cleared for jail. Still, the fire department says the case has made them reevaluate their approach and amp up their training for drug related calls.
“If the exact same situation were to happen tonight, likely the providers would air on the side of the patient and transfer the patient to the hospital. We’ve changed, modified and educated everyone in the system,” Schaeffer said.
The fire department has added additional training for the crew and tailored it to cases similar to what they saw with Parker.