Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

By Bill Stevenson
Whitman County Gazette 

Family to sue Whitman County over psychologist's death in jail


February 25, 2021

Whitman County Sheriff Correctional Facility

Justin Slayton | Whitman County Gazette

Whitman County Sheriff Correctional Facility located in Colfax, Washington.

COLFAX – The family of a Pullman psychologist is threatening to sue Whitman County for his suicide in jail.

In 2018 Dean Funabiki was found hanging in a Whitman County jail cell and died on the way to the hospital. He was arrested for rape in the second degree on Friday and found two days later.

The 67-year-old was accused of sexually assaulting a patient in her 40s. The Washington State Patrol stated they had DNA evidence matching Funabiki to swabs taken from his victim.

The family is threatening to sue the county and unnamed jail staff in federal court, according to Spokane news media. The family claims Funabiki was placed in general population and not on a suicide watch.

"The jail was aware that Dean Funabiki presented multiple risk factors placing him in jeopardy of harm, including but not limited to self-harm, due to his age, criminal history," according to the family's complaint.

The family claims Funabiki's suicidal state of mind was apparent but the jail staff didn't react to it properly. A suicide note was found afterwards in his cell.

"I am not aware of a lawsuit yet. They filed a claim, what they call a tort claim, asking for (about $1 million)," said Whitman County Prosecutor Denis Tracy on Tuesday. "It's an unfortunate tragedy but it it's not county's fault."

Author Bio

Bill Stevenson, Editor

Bill Stevenson is the editor of the Whitman County Gazette, Colfax Daily Bulletin and Franklin Connection. He has nearly 30 years of journalism experience covering news in Eastern Washington.

Email: [email protected]
Phone: 5093974333
Twitter: @BillSte71925953
Contact Bill Stevenson


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