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RCMP not at fault in suspicious death from 2017

A sign outside the Wood Buffalo RCMP Timberlea detachment. Sarah Anderson/REPORTER

ASIRT concluded Wood Buffalo RCMP are not at fault for the suspicious death of a 32-year-old man in custody back in May 2017.

On the night of May 13, 2017, police arrested the man at this residence, who was only wearing his underwear.

RCMP never released the man’s name.

However, he was the subject of a drug trafficking investigation.

He surrendered to police without incident.

Upon his arrest, police charged him with numerous drug trafficking offences and found numerous items consistent with drug trafficking.

They took the man into custody at the Wood Buffalo RCMP South Policing Facility.

Suspicious death

He went into medical distress after 2 a.m. that night.

RCMP provided first aid and called for emergency services, who arrived and took him to the hospital where he died two hours later.

Police ruled the man’s death as “medical”.

An autopsy revealed he died of cocaine and fentanyl toxicity.

Furthermore, they found a small, ripped bag containing the drug in his stomach from the night of his arrest.

ASIRT determined the man concealed drugs within his body, which led to his death.

“It is a reasonable inference the man used the brief period of advance awareness of his forthcoming arrest to conceal drugs within his body that later led to him going into medical distress and ultimately resulted in his death.”

ASIRT said there are no grounds to consider a member of the RCMP committed a criminal offence that night.

The police watchdog also interviewed witnesses and analyzed CCTV footage.