Two inmates who died at the Pierce County Jail in 2015 were killed by heart disease and a third died from drugs, according to the Medical Examiner’s Office.
The investigation for each death included toxicology testing, the results of which can take months to come back from the state crime lab.
The News Tribune asked the Medical Examiner’s Office on Tuesday about the deaths and was told:
▪ Demetrius Dixon, a 32-year-old Kent man, died March 3, 2015, from “acute combined heroin and cocaine intoxication.” His death was ruled an accident caused by drugs.
Police said Dixon appeared to ingest a white substance at the time of his arrest after an officer found suspected drugs during a traffic stop. Dixon was taken to a hospital, where staff members cleared him and he was taken to jail.
Sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said at the time that a nurse checked on Dixon when he arrived at the jail and found he was healthy aside from high blood sugar.
He was left in a cell in the booking area of the jail, where he died.
▪ Winona Taraya, 47 of Ocean Park, was found dead in her bunk July 6, after she died from natural causes, specifically hypertensive heart disease.
Police said she had been arrested on warrants for driving with a suspended license and theft.
▪ Sara Watkins-Kitt died from natural causes Sept. 2, because of dilated cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart muscle. The 27-year-old woman from the Puyallup area had been jailed for an alleged probation violation.
The toxicology results did not indicate drugs were involved in the deaths of Watkins-Kitt or Taraya.
A fourth inmate who died at the jail, 48-year-old Matthew Smith, due to a sepsis infection. He was arrested for alleged reckless driving,
His parents have filed a claim against the county, alleging their son, who suffered from Crohn’s disease, didn’t get proper medical care at the jail.