Family of accused Whitman County rapist suing over his in-custody suicide

Dean Funabiki Social

PULLMAN, Wash – The family of an accused rapist who hanged himself in the Whitman County jail wants the county to be held responsible for not ensuring his safety while in their custody.

The estate and family of Dean Funabiki filed the lawsuit this week in federal court. It names Whitman County and so-far unnamed jail employees as defendants.

Funabiki was arrested in 2018 and booked into the Whitman County Jail. Funabiki was a psychologist, accused of sexually assaulting one of his patients. He had no previous criminal history at the time of his arrest.

DNA linked Funabiki to the victim, who reported the assault at the hospital.

Two days after he was booked into jail, he fashioned a ligature out of a bedsheet and was found hanging in his cell. He was transported to the hospital where he died.

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According to the complaint, “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, prominent position in the community, and the nature of the charge.

The complaint says, despite those things, Funabiki was not placed on suicide watch and was instead placed in the general population.

“The nature of Dean Funabiki’s death, including his suicide note, evidence a state of mind and planning which eliminate any chance that Dean Funabiki died by misadventure, chance, or accident,” the complaint says. “His clear purpose was to commit suicide, and his act included a lucid written statement found afterwards in his cell.”

Attorneys say the jail’s reliance on routine rounds and failure to remove items from Funabiki’s cell which would be “obvious means for him to engage in self-harm” constitute a failure to protect him, which is required by state law.

The claim alleges the county showed deliberate indifference and that “Whitman County and [John] Doe 1 owed a duty of care to their detainee to train and supervise their employees, and to enact and enforce proper policies, procedures and practices to prevent harm to Dean Funabiki under the Fourteenth Amendment.”

The lawsuit claims Whitman County and other defendants should be accountable for loss of income, pain and suffering, mental distress inflicted upon Funabiki’s wife and children, funeral and burial expenses and other damages to be determined at trial.”

Whitman County has yet to respond to the complaint.