Coroner performs autopsy on inmate found dead in Benton County J - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Coroner performs autopsy on inmate found dead in Benton County Jail

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KENNEWICK, WA - The Benton County Coroner's Office has released results from an autopsy on an 18 year old inmate who was found dead in his cell Friday, March 11th.

Coroner John Hansens says there were no signs of violence on the body of Mark Anthony Moreno and could not figure out a cause of death.

He has now sent for toxicology tests which will be available in about 8 weeks.

Moreno's family says he was bipolar and suffered from schizophrenia.

The Benton County Sheriff's Office says Moreno was uncooperative during his arrest and when he arrived at the jail on March 3rd and corrections officers never used force on him.

Sheriff Steve Keane says Moreno acted erratic, refused to eat for several days and barely slept.

Keane says mental health professionals assessed him daily and jail staff checked on him every 30 minutes.

The Special Investigation Unit is now looking into the case. 

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Previous Coverage:

Benton County Coroner, John Hansens is planning to perform an autopsy on Tuesday to determine how 19-year-old Marc Anthony Moreno passed away while in the Benton County Jail.

Moreno was arrested on Tuesday, March 3 for misdemeanor warrants out of Benton and Franklin counties. On Friday, March 11 correction officers found him unresponsive inside his holding cell. Medical personnel pronounced him dead shortly after. 

Moreno's family says when he was arrested while he was seeking counseling at the Benton Franklin Crisis Response Unit in Kennewick. His family protested his death at the Benton County Justice Center on Monday, demanding answers.

A special investigation unit is investigating the case. Suicide is not suspected. Moreno's family says he was bipolar and suffered from schizophrenia.

The Benton County Sheriff's Office says Moreno was uncooperative during his arrest and when he arrived at jail. It says corrections officers never used force on him.
 
Sheriff Steve Keane says Moreno acted erratic, refused to eat for several days and barely slept. Keane says mental health professionals assessed him daily and jail staff checked on him every 30 minutes.

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KENNEWICK, WA -  Benton County Coroner John Hansens identified the inmate who passed away in the Benton County Jail on Friday.

He is 18-year-old Marc Anthony Moreno, from Kennewick. 

An autopsy is scheduled for Tuesday at the Benton County Coroner’s Office according to Hansens.

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KENNEWICK, WA - Corrections Officers at the Benton County Jail found an inmate unresponsive in his holding cell Friday morning around 7:30 a.m. and medical personnel pronounced him dead shortly after.

At this time officers said there is no information to determine cause of death.

The man, whose identity is being withheld pending next of kin notifications, was arrested on March 3, 2016 by the Kennewick Police Department on three separate warrants and made attempts to damage property.

At the time of his death, the inmate was on an observation level that required officers to check on him every thirty minutes or less. These checks were completed up until the time he was found unresponsive.

He was housed in a specially built cell that reduces the chance of self-harm.

"At the time of booking force was not used by corrections staff to ensure his safe housing." said Sheriff Steve Keane.

Deputies said the inmate is a documented gang member, was uncooperative,  believed to be a potential threat to himself and others and possibly under the influence of narcotics at the time of his arrested. Based on his threats of self-harm, precautions were taken to evaluate him for his safety and the safety of corrections staff.

The Benton County mental health staff assessed the inmate on a daily basis and made medically based recommendations as to the appropriate housing and observation levels.

Upon finding the inmate unresponsive, medical staff and additional corrections officers responded to the location to attempt to care for him

Sheriff Steve Keane requested the assistance of the regional Special Investigative Unit (SIU) to conduct a thorough and independent investigation into the cause and manner of death.

The identity of the inmate will be released following the notification of next of kin.

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