SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — The family of a Washington state man who killed himself in a Spokane County Jail in 2018 is suing the county, saying its public defender’s office was not properly trained to deal with people with mental health issues.

The family said in their lawsuit that the death of Chris Rogers, 24, could have been prevented, The Spokesman-Review reported Wednesday.

Rogers hanged himself in his jail cell on Jan. 3, 2018. He had schizophrenia and believed that a Martian would kill his family if he did not kill himself, the newspaper said.

Rogers had been arrested in November 2017 after he escaped from a mental health treatment facility and stole a car. His family is suing both the county and NaphCare, the company that provides mental health evaluations for inmates.

“They don’t want to see this happen to anyone else with mental health issues,” said Josh Maurer, an attorney for Rogers’ family.

Rogers was one of eight inmates who had died at the Spokane County jail in a 14-month span.


The lawsuit said that before Rogers was booked into jail, he had made suicidal statements to law enforcement. Medical staff at the jail also noted that he had past suicide attempts and had vocalized suicidal thoughts, the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit said despite that knowledge, Rogers was taken off suicide watch at least twice for unclear reasons.

The Spokesman-Review had also reported that it was unclear if Rogers ever received another dose of his prescribed medication while he was in jail.