The following story contains graphic information
The Independent Investigations Office (IIO) of BC has determined there was no police wrongdoing in a death that occurred in Williams Lake on June 27th, 2020.
According to the IIO report, a male, who is described as the affected person (AP), and a female, described as Civilian Witness 1 (CW1), were arrested in Lone Butte for theft of vehicles and possession of a controlled substance, and there was a quantity of methamphetamine found in AP’s possession. The report says AP and CW1 appeared to be the influence of illicit substances.
According to the report, they were taken to police cells at the 100 Mile House RCMP detachment, and officers planned to released them when they were sober. The two were lodged in separate cells. AP’s stay at the detachment was recorded on CCTV Video.
The report says at 9:46 AM, AP is seen to stand up walk over to the cell door, and kneel down. He then takes off his tank top and wraps it around his neck. He appears to be pulling on the shirt to tighten it, and as he lies down on the cell floor, his face can be seen to redden. Very quickly, the jail guard on duty raises the alarm, and two officers enter the cell. The officers removed the shirt from around AP’s neck, and also remove his pants and socks. He was moved to another cell and was wrapped in a blanket.
Witnessing officers said AP’s demeanour during the time they observed him was cooperative and emotionally subdued, and that nothing in AP’s behaviour aroused any significant concerns for his wellbeing.
At around 7:15 PM, CW1 was apprehended under the Mental Health Act, and was taken to hospital for a psychiatric evaluation, and later taken to Kamloops for further assessment.
The report says at 7:31 PM, AP was woken up, and displaying signs of anger and distress. He was released on an Undertaking to attend court at a later date. Conditions of release included a ‘no contact’ term with respect to CW1 and a ‘no go’ to an area within 50 kilometres of 100 Mile House. According to the IIO, the ‘booking out’ section of AP’s prisoner report indicates that AP was “very sad, confused, sleepy, wobbling balance. Possible cause of impairment: liquor, meth. Time of last consumption: unknown”.
According to the report, AP was taken to a shelter in Williams Lake. During the drive, Subject Officer 1 said AP’s mood improved significantly and he was polite and talkative. CCTV recordings from the shelter show SO1 and AP arrived at the shelter at 9:27 PM. After a short conversation on the sidewalk, AP and SO1 ‘bump’ fists and SO1 leaves while AP enters the shelter and is taken to his room.
The report says shortly afterwards, three officers from the Williams Lake RCMP detachment arrived at the shelter. The CCTV recording shows the three officers speaking with AP, and examining his release documents.
The three officers were interviewed and stated they had not been aware of any medical or addiction issues, or of any suicidal or mental health concerns.
According to the report, on the morning of June 27 at 11:51 AM, AP can be seen on shelter video leaving the premises for a short period of time, returning at 12:00 PM. A minute later, AP is seen going to use the communal telephone. At 12:19 PM, AP appears to be crying as he returns to his room, and is seen to go out again between 12:35 and 12:46 PM.
The report says a shelter staff member went to AP’s room with his dinner at around 5:15PMand found AP deceased from ligature strangulation.
When interviewed by IIO investigators, CW1 said she and AP were both under the influence of drugs, at the time of their arrest, and the couple has previously entered a ‘suicide pact’, by which they agreed they would both commit suicide if facing arrest.
The Chief Civilian Director IIO determined there are reasonable grounds to believe an officer may have committed an offence under any enactment and the matter will not be referred to Crown counsel for consideration of charges.
The Chief Civilian Director noted that AP had been seen to pull his shirt around his neck, but AP had previously indicated this was intended to draw attention to his distress about being separated from his girlfriend. AP also did not make any further attempts at self-harm while in police custody and appeared subsequently to be in a generally calm and cooperative mood.
The Chief Civilian Director says AP’s motivation to commit suicide actually crystallized after he had left police custody, when he encountered difficulties communicating with CW1 and was told she was taken to Kamloops.