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Police watchdog investigating Grande Prairie RCMP in-custody death

The death of a man in the custody of the Grande Prairie RCMP is under investigation by the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team. Police say the 26-year-old was arrested the afternoon of February 7th and was found unresponsive in the cells at the detachment the next morning.

Corporal Deanna Fontaine says officers were called to help Emergency Medical Services with a man needing medical assistance at a home in the city around 1:54 p.m. on the 7th. It’s reported he was “extremely erratic” and was noted by mounties to be high. ASIRT adds it’s reported he had taken drugs and was creating a disturbance.

“The male was refusing medical transport, also refused the RCMP’s offer to be taken to an alternate location for shelter, and alleged to have been interfering with the lawful enjoyment and use of the property,” says Fontaine.

The man was arrested for mischief and taken to the detachment until he could be safely released. Police say regular wellness checks were done during his stay, and, at 7:45 a.m. on February 8th, an officer doing a check noticed he was not breathing. EMS responded and he was pronounced dead at 7:53 a.m. ASIRT says records show the man was checked by both guards and police officers.

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The police watchdog has been called in to investigate the circumstances of the death, along with an internal review by the RCMP. The ASIRT investigation will include a review of what took place in the cell block, RCMP training, policy, response, and employees’ actions.

“The RCMP believes in processes that seek the facts and it’s important that processes taken to assess the actions of all those involved, including the police, are fair, transparent, and defendable,” adds Fontaine. “This is why, as soon as we became aware of this incident, we immediately notified the Director of Law Enforcement and initiated our internal review process.”

The RCMP says it is fully complying with the investigation.

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