Category Archives: Death in Custody

ASIRT Investigates Death of Woman in Edmonton Police Custody (August 6-7, 2017)

The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team is investigating the death of a 55-year-old woman in custody of the Edmonton police over the long weekend between August 6 and 7, 2017. The circumstances leading to the death were initiated in as little as a call about intoxication at a transit station. Why people call police over such things might be asked. On Sunday, August 6, police responded to the Belvedere LRT Station and “dealt with” three people who were allegedly intoxicated. A 55-year-old woman was arrested and taken into custody, being placed in a holding cell with other people at city police headquarters. She had initially been taken to the northeast division facility before being taken to police headquarters, but no explanation has been provided for why that move was made. Around 10 AM the next morning the woman was found unresponsive and in medical distress on the floor of the cell. ASIRT has reported that there were “no obvious signs of significant trauma or injury.” The woman was transported to hospital in critical condition by EMS crews and died there later that evening.


RCMP Assume Indigenous Man Having Stroke is Drunk: Inquest into Paul Kayuryuk Death

Between July 24 and July 27, 2017,  coroner’s inquest in Baker Lake, Nunavut, examined the death in jail of Paul Kayuryuk in October 2012 and concluded that police must “challenge assumptions” about intoxication in Inui communities. This after necessary medical attention was not provided Kayuryuk after RCMP jailed the man, who was having a stroke, on the assumption that he was drunk.

RCMP took Kayuryuk into custody after he was found unconscious at the landfill in Baker Lake.  Kayuryuk was observed overnight by three different guards and remained unconscious. It was only at midday the following day that a medical examination was ordered as a result of information received from the family. Kayuryuk was diabetic and the doctor and nurses at the local health center determined that he was experiencing a serious stroke. He was medivacked to Winnipeg but died there two weeks later from complications from the stroke.

Six jurors made 17 recommendations. Among them:

Cultural sensitivity training for officers and providing prisoners access to Inuktitut translators;  Seeking family insights and acting on the side of health care rather than presumed intoxication when in doubt.

Nunavut’s Chief Coroner Padma Suramala will present the recommendations to the RCMP who are under no obligation to observe them. This is one of several coroners’ inquests examining harm to Indigenous people by police with implications of racism and racist stereotyping of people seeking or in need of medical care.


SIU Investigates What Cops Claim as “Sudden Death” of Shawn Davis in Chatham

Killer cops, their forces, and their police associations are regularly coming up with euphemisms and bogus “conditions” to excuse or legitimize their killings. The litany includes “excited delirium,” “suicide by cop,” and the mystical “sudden death.” The Special Investigations Unit (SIU), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians is investigating a case that police are calling “sudden death” in Chatham, Ontario on July 26, 2017.

Sometime on the night of July 25, Chatham-Kent police responded to a 911 call allegedly involving a domestic dispute. According to the SIU police remained outside the house on Greenfield Lane for quite some time.

Then the storyline jumps dramatically with no explanation. The SIU reports police entered the house at around 7:00 AM and—huge jump here—a 52-year old man, since identified as Shawn Davis, was pronounced dead at the scene (killed?, found dead?, etc.?). No one is saying. But sudden death does not cut it.

CKPS Constable Kelly Helbin said police would not release any other information. This only adds to the sense of police acting suspiciously in this case.


Romeo Wesley Pepper Sprayed, Beaten Stepped On, Handcuffed by Cops: Death Ruled…Accidental

Romeo Wesley (34), of Cat Lake First Nation, died after being pepper sprayed, beaten, handcuffed, and stepped on by two police officers in his community’s nursing station in 2010. On July 20, 2017 the coroner’s inquest into his killing by police was released and concluded incredibly that his death was accidental. Now for most reasonable people if a civilian pepper sprayed, beat, restrained, and stepped on someone and they died it would not be viewed as an accident. Death would be recognized as a probability outcome of those actions being inflicted on someone.

Wesley had gone to the nursing station, in the community 400 kilometers north of Thunder Bay, concerned about shortness of breath and looking for help. A nurse there viewed his behavior as erratic (one would think acting erratically is not atypical for someone in medical distress) and called Nishawbe-Aski police.

The two officers who arrived pepper sprayed Wesley, tackled him onto the floor, beat him with a baton, and handcuffed his hands behind him. With police forcing him face down on the floor and with their boots on his head, neck, and back, Wesley stopped breathing. The inquest determined this to be an accident but we might reasonable ask if he would have died in the absence of this police assault.

None of the medical staff at the nursing station, including the doctor and nurses, did anything to help Wesley, perhaps fearful of police response if they tried. They only checked on him after he stopped breathing.

The coroner’s inquest, in a manner not unique in cases of police killing civilians, decided to blame the victim in their ruling. They found the cause of Wesley’s death to be “struggle and restraint (chest compression, prone positioning, handcuffing) as well as agitation and trauma (pain)….with acute alcohol withdrawal/delirium tremens.” Restraint, agitation, and trauma are all directly attributable to actions taken by the police officers. These were not accidents.

The jury made 53 recommendations. Some of them highlight systemic racism within government services in Indigenous communities (without actually naming racism). They include:

Cultural training courses for nurses before being placed in an Indigenous community.

Hiring medical staff and police officers who speak the language of the communities they serve.

Developing a protocol for police interventions in medical facilities within Indigenous communities.

Designating Nishnawbe-Aski Police Services as a police force under the Police Services Act in Ontario and thus providing for some civilian oversight.

 

By all accounts Romeo Wesley was a beloved member of the community and is missed by many. The community was hoping for much more from this inquiry.


Video Raises Questions About In-Custody Death of Dale Culver in Prince George

The man who died while in custody of Prince George RCMP has been identified publicly as Dale Culver, a 35-year-old father of three. Several RCMP officers took part in Culver’s arrest allegedly following a call about someone looking at vehicles. Culver was pepper prayed and newly released video shows that four officers pinned him to the ground afterwards.

It has not been independently confirmed that Culver, or anyone else was “casing vehicles.” Yet on this basis he was killed by police. A terrible price to pay for simply being suspected of possibly looking at cars.

Seeing the video, Alicia Wisla, Culver’s partner and mother of their five-month-old child, insists the officers involved must be charged.

The available video footage can be viewed here:  http://globalnews.ca/news/3616428/girlfriend-of-prince-george-man-who-died-in-police-custody-wants-justice/?utm_source=980CKNW&utm_medium=Facebook


Victim of Thunder Bay Police Identified as Marlon “Roland” Jerry McKay, 50-Year-Old Indigenous Man

The Thunder Bay police have garnered much notoriety recently over concerns of widespread racism on the force against Indigenous people in the area. Now the 50-year-old man who died in his cell while in custody of Thunder Bay police has been identified as Marlon “Roland” Jerry McKay. He died on July 19, 2017, after being arrested and detained for as yet unstated reasons. The victim’s family has confirmed that McKay, of the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) First Nation 600 kilometers north of Thunder Bay, was in the city for medical reasons. Paramedics supposedly cleared him on health grounds before he was taken by police. The family has apparently been told by the coroner that McKay did not die of a heart attack. The Special Investigations Unit is examining the case.


50-Year-Old Man Dies in Custody in Thunder Bay (July 19, 2017)

The Special Investigations Unit (SIU), the agency that investigates police harm to civilians in Ontario, is examining the death of a 50-year-old man who was held at a police station in Thunder Bay, Ontario, on July 19, 2017. According to the SIU, police and paramedics attended an address on Fort William Road around 8 PM the evening before. After being cleared medically by paramedics, the man was taken by police to the police station and placed in a cell. The SIU reports that a bit after midnight, the man was found in his cell not breathing. He was taken to hospital by paramedics and was pronounced dead there. Thunder Bay police have garnered much negative attention recently for concerns about widespread racism within the force in relation to treatment of Indigenous residents in the area.