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Investigation into Wood Buffalo death in custody

On March 21, at 7:50 p.m., Wood Buffalo RCMP responded to a call regarding an intoxicated man at the Centre of Hope homeless shelter. The man was co-operative with police during his arrest and was lodged at the Wood Buffalo RCMP detachment cell block at approximately 8:20 p.m.

The man was able to walk on his own and was verbally responsive with the police officers and the cell guard. He was not visibly injured or ill. 

Following a conversation with a police officer in the cell block at about 11:50 p.m., the man went to sleep. He was monitored by the cell guards and was noted to be breathing and occasionally moving about on the floor throughout the night. 

On March 22, at 5:28 a.m., the cell guards determined that the man was unresponsive and an urgent call was placed to Emergency Medical Services (EMS). Guards entered the cell and immediately initiated emergency life-saving measures until EMS and police officers arrived to assist and take over. The man was pronounced deceased by EMS at 6:11 a.m.

ASIRT’s investigation will examine the conduct of police during this incident, including the aspects of the interactions between the man and police. With ASIRT’s investigation underway, no further information will be released at this time.

As part of its ongoing investigation, ASIRT is continuing efforts to identify people who may have witnessed aspects of the interactions between the man and police. ASIRT is asking anyone who may have been in the area and may have witnessed these events and/or may have video to contact investigators at 780-644-1483.

ASIRT’s mandate is to effectively, independently and objectively investigate incidents involving Alberta’s police that have resulted in serious injury or death to any person, as well as serious or sensitive allegations of police misconduct.

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