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No Charges Laid in Liverpool RCMP Cell Death
An investigation by the province's Serious Incident Response Team (SiRT) has concluded there are no grounds for charges against two members of the Queens County RCMP and a civilian jail guard working in the Liverpool Detachment. The investigation related to the death of a 40-year-old male being held in cells at the Detachment on July 9, 2013.
On July 8, at approximately 11 p.m., the man was found by civilians lying on the River Head Road in Queens County. They called 911, and Emergency Health Services (EHS) and the RCMP responded. The paramedics indicated there was no reason to take the man to hospital. He was believed to be highly intoxicated due to his low level of consciousness, and was arrested for being intoxicated in public.
The man was transported to the RCMP detachment in Liverpool and lodged in cells by the two RCMP officers just before 1 a.m. At that time he was breathing well but was not conscious. At 1:30 a.m., the jail guard became concerned about the man’s health and called for assistance from the two members who were out on a call. When they arrived at 1:59 a.m., the man was not breathing and CPR was commenced. EHS arrived and took the man to hospital where he was pronounced deceased at 2:41 a.m.
SiRT’s investigation concluded that the man had been facing difficult personal times and made a decision to end his life with a self-inflicted overdose of morphine and alcohol. While the actions of the jail guard were reasonable, by placing the man in the cell while unconscious the two RCMP officers may have breached RCMP policy by not seeking further medical attention.
However, to be a criminal offence the officers’ actions must have caused the man’s death and must have been a mistake that was a marked departure from what reasonably should have been done in these circumstances. The Medical Examiner concluded it would be speculative to say earlier medical attention would have saved the man’s life. As well, the investigation found that any error the officers may have made was not significant enough in this case to be a marked depart ure from what was expected.
As a result, there are no grounds to lay charges against either RCMP officer or the civilian jail guard.
The full report is available at http://sirt.novascotia.ca .
SIRT is responsible for investigating all serious incidents involving police in Nova Scotia. Investigations are under the direction and control of independent civilian director Ron MacDonald, who has the sole authority to determine if charges should be laid after the conclusion of an investigation.
Ron MacDonald, QC
Serious Incident Response Team