Aug 14, 2017 - Native Woman Dies in Police Custody

Bellingham, WA – On Thursday August 11th a Native woman died while being held in a Whatchom County jail.

Paula Lee Jefferson, of the Lummi Nation, had been booked into jail 22-hours prior to her death due to suspicion of driving under the influence.

According to Sheriff Bill Elfo, “Records show Lummi Nation police booked Paula Lee Jefferson into jail on suspicion of driving under the influence about 22 hours before her death. Her blood-alcohol content tested high at the time of her arrest, but staff at St. Joseph hospital found her medically fit to be transferred to jail.”

Jail staff state that Jefferson was responsive when they checked on her around noon. The found her unconscious later when they brought her lunch. CPR was performed and paramedics were called.

An autopsy was scheduled for Friday.

The Bellingham Herald requested, but was denied, jail security footage.

Paula Lee Jefferson was 48-years old.

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