Jail Guard Falsified Security Check Prior to Inmate Suicide; Candidate Proposes Shipping Homeless Out of Seattle

1. King County Jail Guard Falsified Records Surrounding Inmate Suicide

A correctional officer at the King County jail in downtown Seattle failed to do a required security check less than two hours before a 47-year-old man with “a history of mental health issues” committed suicide in his cell last year, then falsified a record to make it appear that he had performed the check, PubliCola has learned.

Disciplinary records from the Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention confirm that the guard, Emmanuel Palaita, did perform a check about an hour before the inmate, Keith Denegal, was found dead in his cell in the early morning of February 20, 2022. However, Palaita failed to do the previous mandatory check, leaving Denegal alone in his cell for more than an hour and a half, in violation of jail rules requiring checks at least once an hour. An investigator concluded that Palaita’s “failure to act endangered the safety of the inmate population he was responsible for.”

Because of the fraudulent log, investigators found Palaita had violated department policy, falsified documents, caused loss or injury to the county or public, and breached jail security. He was never disciplined, however, because he left his shift and never came back, going on leave for several weeks before turning in his official resignation more than a month after walking off the job. According to DAJD spokesman Noah Haglund, Palaita never responded to notices about the internal investigation, and declined a hearing after the investigation to clear his name.

Because Palaita falsified a DAJD record, the department forwarded his name to the King County Prosecutor’s office for inclusion on the county’s Brady list—a list of law enforcement officers whose testimony in court is suspect because they have a history of dishonesty.

Since 2021, nine people have died “unexpectedly” at the jail, including five who committed suicide. Haglund said the department “has taken several important steps since last year to protect jail residents against self-harm,” including retrofits to remove gaps between beds and walls, limiting the distribution of over the counter medication, and increased suicide prevention training.

Since 2021, eight DAJD employees have been disciplined for falsifying security checks, Haglund said.

Because Palaita falsified a DAJD record, the department forwarded his name to the King County Prosecutor’s office for inclusion on the county’s Brady list—a list of law enforcement officers whose testimony in court is suspect because they have a history of dishonesty.

PubliCola has also determined that after Palaita left the county last February, he applied to be a Seattle firefighter, although it does not appear the department has hired him. According to records maintained by the city’s Public Safety Civil Service Commission, Palaita passed all the tests required for placement on the Seattle Fire Department’s Firefighter Register, one of the first steps toward becoming a firefighter in Seattle, and he will remain on the list until June 2024.

We have reached out to the fire department for more information about Palaita’s application and whether the department takes the Brady list into consideration when hiring firefighters.

2.  Here’s a Bold New Idea from Westneat’s Favorite Candidate: “Triage” Homeless People Into “Open Space” in King County

On Wednesday, the Seattle Times’ Danny Westneat posted a layup column lightly mocking “the good, the bad, the bizarre ideas” coming from some of the candidates who are unlikely to make it through this year’s August 1 primary. Among the “out-there ideas” Westneat chose for mockery: Taxing spray paint to stop graffiti; building campgrounds for homeless people around the city, including one where people could use fentanyl (“imagine the community meetings,” Westneat snorts) and using AI to audit city departments for waste. “Their ideas,” Westneat chuckles, are like “Seattle satire.”

Given his interest in oddball ideas, it’s strange that Westneat—who says he’s been attending forums and debates all around the city—failed to mention any of the bold new proposals from a candidate he helped boost to prominence two years ago: Kenneth Wilson, who’s running for the open seat in District 4. In 2021, when Wilson was running against council incumbent Teresa Mosqueda, Westneat wrote that he, “stands out in the crowd”  being “being boring and competent.” Westneat was thoroughly charmed by Wilson’s “dorky” engineer vibe, and praised him for his back-to-basics campaign focused on “mismanagement,” government waste, and “building housing for the homeless faster.”

So you’d think Wilson’s big idea this year would be right up Westneat’s alley. Wilson wants to fix homelessness with a “triage” system that will take homeless people off the streets of Seattle and relocate them to an as-yet-unidentified piece of land somewhere in King County, providing recycling bins for them to store their belongings while they “move along in the right path with us.”

“We could do something with triage, especially with King County and their big resources in land. And we would actually move and get these people on the path that’s away from drugs, it’s away from the challenges of the city,” Wilson said at a recent forum.

“There’s so many people in [Seattle] who’ve got mental issues and things like that,” he continued. “In King County, we have a lot of open space, beautiful areas where we can actually make a difference in people’s lives, get them away from the challenges that are making the addictions, causing some of the mental health spill-out, where the damage is coming to our community.”

Wilson, unlike the candidates Westneat poked fun at this week, has a decent shot of making it through the primary, thanks in part to the credibility Westneat’s column gave him during his first campaign. As of Wednesday, he had raised more money than any other candidate in his race.

8 thoughts on “Jail Guard Falsified Security Check Prior to Inmate Suicide; Candidate Proposes Shipping Homeless Out of Seattle”

  1. Kenneth Wilson is “boring and competent?” Sending the homeless out to the forest has got to be one of the stupidest ideas offered yet, and this is “competent?” So the county will just say, “of sure, send them out to the woods, no problem.” Then any nearby towns and/or homeowners will say, “oh yeah, I’ve been waiting for you to ask me to take on Seattle’s problems. Finally a ‘competent’ politician!” Everyone will clap and say, I’ve never thought of a more legal and humane solution that snatching people off the street and dumping them in the woods! My gosh that’s a win-win!”

    I don’t know what kind of fantasy world you live in to think “say, now there’s a good idea!” It’s
    Alex Pedersen level of cluelessness; Sara “it’s only illegal if your not a business owner” Nelson level lack of humanity. But that’s Seattle’s “business lobby” candidates in a nutshell, I suppose. The insufferable absence of self reflection, banal cruelty wrapped in a banner of “Seattle compassion,” and the open disgust for poor people are all hallmarks. I seriously think these nitwits and their rich, lily white cheering squad are about a half step away from proposing ovens as the most cost-effective solution for the homeless, and then they can all stand around in a circle and nod gravely at their own seriousness and “competence.”

    1. LOL! Come one samm, let’s drill down to truth about homelessness in Seattle. Absolutely nobody gives a crap about them. And I mean nobody. If people really cared about the homeless, why, they wouldn’t be homeless, right?

      Liberal crusaders like Erica and Josh might pretend to care about them, but that’s only to score political points. The “Homeless Industrial Complex” takes in millions and millions… and yet problem just gets worse. The word for today is “poverty pimp”. Look it up, it will explain Seattle homelessness.

      I’m here to tell you to let it go. It’s OK to not care about the homeless. There’s nothing you can do about them. Heck, if the Mayor doesn’t care, why should you? Liberal angst will lead you nowhere.

  2. King County DAJD has been a disgrace for decades and, over that same time period have repeatedly displayed an ability to be accountable for anything, let alone disciplining their own. The only reason Palaita’s actions came to light is because this (and/or other news agencies,) asked for public records.

    DAJD is known throughout the corrections industry as being the worst in all categories; worst in training, worst facilities, worst supervision, worst place to work… The only people that even apply to work in such a shithole are people that were passed over for other police or corrections jobs for cause. It’s employment of last resort. Every other county in the state has their jail run and staffed by the county’s sherrif office, but the King County Sheriff’s Office wants nothing to do with taking over DAJD because they’d have to start from scratch as all the employees there have already been rejected by their department.

    This has been going on for decades, and the county Executive and Council are unwilling to fix the problem.

  3. OK, so let’s analyse Wilson’s idea a bit: We take the homeless and move them out of Seattle and out of sight (check off one goal). In this sanctioned camp, they can’t buy their drugs, so we need to run them all through drug rehab; ok, that’s doable. But the reason they’re on drugs (mostly) is because they are homeless and homelessness is miserable. So, now they’re in comfortable tents, with what? camping gear supplied, food and drink supplied, counseling & job training to help them re-integrate back into society? OK, now it’s starting to get expensive. All good, but it costs some money. Then, why not just provide all that within a well-managed building in the city? THAT is what “housing first” is supposed to be. It’s not just house them and forget them. It would be cheaper, and more effective to provide all these services in Seattle, where it’s more convenient for the staff. So, maybe Wilson’s idea is just about getting folks out of sight, and not so much resolving the problem of homelessness. Do it, but do it right. Housing first with effective treatment and services.

    1. “So, maybe Wilson’s idea is just about getting folks out of sight, and not so much resolving the problem of homelessness.” Got it in one, there.

    2. Right. Now where are the magical building(s) going to be? How many years on those lawsuits? Oh, and now they have immediate access to the sweet, sweet Fenty and Meth on the streets. So you have the Junkie and Tweaker problem, (let alone the “batshit crazy” problem)back in the neighborhoods again. Go back up to “lawsuits”, rinse, lather, repeat. May the universe help you if one of them hurts a kid in the area. Also the fact that city building and space are extremely expensive, way more than space out in the county.

      This falls akin to Rodney Dangerfield in “Back to School” discussing where to build the factory though experiment…”Fantasy Island”.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.