Spokane approves $250,000 contract for defense against $6.5M claim in jail death case

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SPOKANE, Washington — Spokane officials have set aside $250,000 in legal fees to defend the city against a $6.5 million wrongful death claim by the family of a man who choked on his own vomit while being booked into the Spokane County Jail.

The Spokesman-Review reports (http://goo.gl/S6vH5O ) the City Council approved the contract with a law firm Monday in connection with the May death of 37-year-old Lorenzo Hayes.

Investigators say Hayes was placed in a restraint chair for uncooperative behavior before he died. He had been arrested by Spokane officers on suspicion of violating a no-contact order and illegally having a firearm.

The claim alleges officers ignored Hayes' medical needs and restrained him in a way "known to compromise breathing."

The Spokane County Medical Examiner's Office has ruled Hayes' death a homicide.

Information from: The Spokesman-Review, http://www.spokesman.com

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