Category Archives: Death in Custody

Man “Falls to Death” in Montreal Police Custody (July 30, 2020)

A 29-year-old man died in Montreal police custody on July 30, 2020. According to the Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes (BEI), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in Quebec, the man fell from the balcony of his 14th floor apartment after police allegedly took him there to receive some documents following his arrest. The BEI reports that the man had been arrested at around 2:30 that afternoon. According to the BEI, police claim the man threw himself off the balcony.

The BEI has assigned six investigators to examine the circumstances of the man’s death. The BEI is not an independent agency and relies on police from other forces to assist with investigations.


Man Pepper Sprayed, Dies During Arrest by Sherbrooke Police (July 25, 2020)

A 33-year-old man has died after being pepper sprayed and arrested by Sherbrooke police early in the morning of July 25, 2020.

Quebec’s police watchdog, the Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes (BEI), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in the province, is investigating the death. They report that police were responding to a call about an altercation in front of a business at around 10:15 AM.

The BEI claim that when police arrived one of the two men in the alleged altercation ran away. They report that an officer chased down that man and pepper-sprayed him. During arrest the man lost consciousness. He was taken to hospital and died there a few hours later.

The BEI has assigned eight investigators to the case. The BEI is not independent and relies on other police forces to carry out investigations, In this case, they are relying on the Quebec provincial police (SQ), to provide a forensics specialist.


Man Dies in Edmonton Police Custody (June 24, 2020)

A man has died in Edmonton police custody only a few hours after being arrested in the early morning of June 24, 2020. The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in the province, is investigating. It has been reported that the man was arrested for “public intoxication” after police responded to a call at a gas station near 51st Avenue and 122nd Street in the Lansdowne neighborhood at around 4 AM. Police claim the man “appeared to be on drugs” so it appears that this is another drug war death based on assumptions about appearance.

The man was arrested and taken to the Southwest Division station in Windermere. At around 7 AM, the victim was found unresponsive in his holding cell. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

A spokesperson for Edmonton Police Service has said publicly that details could not be provided about how often the man was checked while he was detained in the holding cell.


Man Dies During Arrest by York Regional Police, Vaughan, Ontario (June 8, 2020)

A 35-year-old man has died during arrest by York Regional Police in Vaughan, Ontario (North of Toronto) on June 8, 2020. According to a police media statement, police were called to a home on Jade Crescent at around 11 PM for an alleged “domestic dispute.” The Special Investigations Unit (SIU), the agency that examines cases of police harm in Ontario, reports only that was some unspecified “interaction” between an officer and the man. It has not been said whether or not the officer used a weapon. At some point during the arrest, the SIU report, the victim lost vital signs and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police first claimed that an officer sustained “significant injuries.” That was later changed to describe the injuries as minor.


Man Dies Following Numerous “Falls” After He is Taken into RCMP Custody in Kitimat (June 1, 2020)

The Independent Investigations Office (IIO), the agency that examines cases of police harm in British Columbia, is investigating the death of a man who was taken into RCMP custody in Kitimat. The IIO reports that the man “fell a number of times” after being taken into police custody. He had been arrested on May 30 on reports of “an intoxicated man” near the City Centre Mall. He died on June 1.

According to the IIO, the man was detained by police and transported to hospital after falling, before he was released on the morning of May 31. The IIO reports that the man fell again on May 31, while not in police custody. On June 1 he “was found to be suffering serious injuries while in hospital and passed away later that day.”


Caleb Tubila Njoko (26) Dies After “Fall” From Balcony During London Police Operation (May 4, 2020) Black Lives Matter

It has been announced that Caleb Tubila Njoko, a 26-year-old Black man who reportedly fell from a 15th floor balcony during a police operation in London, Ontario, on May 4, 2020, has died. Mr. Njoko died on May 8, but his death was only confirmed by the Special Investigations Unit on June 3. There has been no public explanation for the delay in this.

The Special Investigations Unit (SIU), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in Ontario, is investigating. They report that London police responded to 85 Walnut Street on May 4 at around 11:15 PM on a call of a person in distress. Officers entered an apartment on the 15th floor and, at some point, the victim “fell” from a balcony. He was taken to hospital in critical condition and died there four days later.

This is the second Black person to have been killed in what is reported publicly as a fall from a balcony during a police operation in Ontario in May alone. On May 27, Regis Korchinski-Paquet, a 29-year-old Black woman, was killed in a “fall” from an apartment balcony in Toronto. Family members and witnesses report that she was shoved off the balcony by Toronto police. Because police control the information that is released when they kill, their version of events must be treated with skepticism and there is a real need to hear from witnesses, if any were present.

Notably, both of these deaths involved police interventions against someone in distress. Police are not suitable for mental health care or interacting with people in distress. Proper health supports and care are needed but are denied resources when those resources go instead to police budgets.

The SIU has assigned one subject officer and three witness officers to its probe. One might ask why the SIU has designated one subject officer if the incident was straightforwardly a “fall.”


Man Dies During Arrest by Richmond, BC, RCMP (May 28, 2020)

A man has died while in custody of RCMP in Richmond, BC, (Metro Vancouver) on May 28, 2020. The Independent Investigations Office (IIO), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in British Columbia, is investigating. As is commonly the case in police killings in Canada, publicly released details are limited.

According to the IIO, RCMP responded to reports of shoplifting at a business in Richmond. Upon arrival, a security guard was struggling with the man. The victim was placed in handcuffs before police addressed his being in medical distress. Emergency responders were called and transported the man to hospital where he was pronounced dead.

This was the first of two police involved deaths in Metro Vancouver in two days.


Man Dies During Arrest by Delta, BC, Police (May 30, 2020)

A man has died while being arrested by Delta Police (Metro Vancouver) on Friday, May 30, 2020. Publicly released details are very limited at this point. The Independent Investigations Office (IIO), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in British Columbia, is investigating. They report that the man was pursued by police for allegedly stealing a taxi at the ferry terminal. No one was in the taxi at the time.

According to the IIO, the man “was taken into custody. During the course of his arrest, the man suffered serious injuries.” The man was transported to hospital where he was pronounced dead.


Everett Patrick (42), Lake Babine First Nation, Dies in Prince George RCMP Custody (April 20, 2020)

Everett Patrick (42), a member of the Lake Babine First Nation, has died after being taken into custody by Prince George RCMP on April 12, 2020. Patrick had been hospitalized after going into “medical distress” while being arrested by RCMP. He was taken off life support on April 17 and died on April 20.

The Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia (IIO), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in the province, is investigating Patrick’s death. They report that the RCMP used a dog team to track Patrick down after allegedly responding to an alarm at a private business. They also say that Patrick was taken to hospital twice on the day he was arrested, first to be treated for what have been described as “minor wounds.” The nature of these wounds has not been confirmed publicly but it has been said that they were bites from the police dogs.

The IIO report that hours after being returned to the RCMP detachment from the hospital, Patrick “went into medical distress and was transported to hospital where he was found to be suffering from serious injury.” Miranda Thomas, Patrick’s sister, says that the family has been told that “he was having a seizure in the jail cell” (quoted in Bellrichard 2020).

Thomas says that doctors told the family that a CT scan showed that Patrick suffered “bleeding in his brain requiring emergency surgery and that he wasn’t expected to survive” (quoted in Bellrichard 2020).

The family has serious questions about what happened to Patrick while he was in RCMP custody and what caused him to be taken to the hospital for a second time the same day (Bellrichard 2020).

 

Further Reading

Bellrichard, Chantelle. 2020. “Prince George Family Looks for Answers After Man Dies in Police Custody.” CBC News April 22. https://www.cbc.ca/news/indigenous/prince-george-death-rcmp-custody-investigation-1.5540688?__vfz=medium%3Dsharebar


Man Dies During Arrest by Toronto Police in Etobicoke (March 21, 2020)

A 33-year-old man died following his arrest by Toronto police in Etobicoke (in the city’s west end) on March 21, 2020. According to the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), the agency that examines cases of police harm in Ontario, Toronto police officers responded to an Etobicoke residence, at Burlington Street and Victoria Street, around 12:30 PM to assist Emergency Medical Services. Officers arrested the man, but “soon after, he went vital signs absent,” the SIU reports. He was taken to hospital and was pronounced dead there.

Two SIU investigators and one forensic investigator have been assigned to the case.

It has not been reported publicly why police arrested the man when he needed medical attention.