Category Archives: Death in Custody

19-Year-Old Man Dies In Custody of Onion Lake, Saskatchewan, RCMP (Oct. 12, 2019)

A 19-year-old man died on the morning of October 12, 2019, while in-custody at the RCMP Detachment in Onion Lake. Saskatchewan. RCMP have only reported that the youth’s death was “sudden.” In their media, the RCMP say the man, from Lloydminster, Saskatchewan, was found unresponsive in the cell area shortly after 8 AM. Paramedics were apparently called, and the man was pronounced dead on the scene.

There is no outside unit in Saskatchewan to investigate police-involved deaths in the province so police in Saskatchewan investigate police. In this case Moose Jaw Police are investigating the circumstances of the death. The Ministry of Justice is expected to appoint an observer during the investigation. In any event, this is an unacceptable process of one force “investigating” another force, a process that lacks credibility.

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54-Year-Old Man Dies in Police Custody in The Pas, Manitoba (Oct. 5-6, 2019)

A 54-year-old man has died in police custody in The Pas, Manitoba, a town about 600 kilometers northwest of Winnipeg. According to the Independent Investigation Unit (IIU), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in the province, police arrested the man after responding to a call about an intoxicated person on October 5, 2019. He was put in a cell at the RCMP detachment at around 7 PM. The man was found unresponsive in his cell the next morning. According to the IIU, emergency medical services attended and pronounced the man dead in the detachment. Police and jail cells are not appropriate responses for someone dealing with substance use issues.


27-Year-Old Man Dies Following Forceful Arrest by Winnipeg Police (Sept. 30, 2019)

A 27-year-old man has died after being arrested by Winnipeg police. The Independent Investigation Unit (IIU), the agency that examines cases of police harms to civilians in Manitoba, reports that on September 23 police officers responded to a call about a man in some distress who is said to have appeared confused and was yelling in an area near Assiniboine Avenue and Kennedy Street at around 12:42 AM. The IIU reports that police used force to arrest him. During the arrest the man became unresponsive and was taken to hospital in critical condition. The victim died in hospital on September 30.

This death again raises the question of why police, who respond, and quickly, with force are being sent to deal with health care crises. Police are not, and should not be, health care workers. This is at least the seventh through police action in Winnipeg in 2019.


Man Dies in Police Custody in Amherst, Nova Scotia (June 30, 2019)

The Serious Incident Response Team (SIRT), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in the province, is investigating the death of a man in police custody in Amherst, Nova Scotia. It has been reported that officers allegedly took a man, whose age has not been released publicly, to the police department on the morning of June 29, 2019, because they assumed he was drunk. At some point while the man was detained in a holding cell medical assistance was called. The man was taken to the Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre, where he died of his medical issues on Sunday, June 30.


52-Year-Old Man Dies after Arrest in Kingston, Ontario (July 23, 2019)

A 52-year-old man has died after being arrested at a Harvey’s restaurant in Kingston, Ontario on Tuesday, July 23, 2019. The Special Investigations Unit (SIU), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in Ontario, is examining the death. According to the SIU, Kingston police responded to a call at around 1:30 PM regarding a man allegedly “behaving erratically” at the Harvey’s restaurant at Princess and Regent streets. When officers arrived, police claim they found the man in the restroom and took him into custody. The man was later taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

No details have been released publicly about what “behaving erratically” meant, why police rather than health care experts were sent to the scene, or why the police arrested the man. No details have been provided either about what happened between the man being taken into custody and his later being transported to the hospital where he was pronounced dead. Police control all of this information and its means of release (or not).


Person Dies in RCMP Custody in Prince George, British Columbia (July 20, 2019)

A person has died after being detained by RCMP in Prince George, British Columbia. According to the Independent Investigations Office (IIO), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in the province, the RCMP detained the victim at 11:24 PM on Friday, July 19 and they were found to be in distress at about 4:25 AM on Saturday morning. They were taken to hospital by paramedics and, according to the hospital, died at 6:46 AM that day.

No other details have been released publicly at this time.


Victim of Winnipeg Police Identified as Randy Cochrane of Fisher River Cree Nation (July 14, 2019)

The family of a man who died during an arrest by Winnipeg police has identified him as Randy Cochrane, a 30-year-old father of three. Family members are calling for answers into what happened during the arrest and why there appear to be discrepancies in what police reported and what doctors in the hospital emergency have said.

Randy Cochrane’s cousin Monica Murdock asks pointedly:

“My family’s devastated. We want to know what happened to him. Why did he die in cuffs? Why were they chasing him? Why are they saying he was bloody but the doctors we went and saw at the emergency room last night said that he had no injuries? (quoted in Grabish 2019)

Murdock reports that doctors at the Health Sciences Centre told her family on Sunday, after Cochrane died, that the young man had suffered a heart attack and had a high fever. She also reports that they told her there were no other injuries on his body. She says that doctors informed her that it was too late by the time Cochrane arrived at the hospital at 4:30 PM because he had been without a pulse for some time (Grabish 2019).

Murdock describes her cousin as “a fierce protector of his family” and she says “he was more like a brother to her” (2019). She relates fondly: “He always made sure we were protected. We were safe. The last time I saw him he came to my house and he gave me some money for my baby ‘cause my daughter’s in the hospital” (quoted in Grabish 2019).

Marjorie Cochrane raised Randy after adopting him. She remembers:

“He was really always close to his daughters. It’s hard. Taking it hard” (quoted in Grabish 2019).

She too has important questions for police: “What happened when they handcuffed him?” (quoted in Grabish 2019).

A witness, Will Couture, says Cochrane, rather than being a threat, appeared to be shouting for help while running from something or someone (2019). Couture reports that the man, kept repeating “help me, help me” (Grabish 2019). He then saw police chase Cochrane across the street.

Couture claims that the man looked “freaked out.” In his words: “Just scared. Just like terrified of something you know what I mean? It was like the devil was chasing him” (quoted in Grabish 2019).

If it was the police, he may be completely right in that.

 

Further Reading

Grabish, Austin. 2019. “Family Demands Answers after Father of 3 Dies in Police Custody.” CBC News July 15. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/police-custody-death-north-end-winnipeg-1.5212209