B.C.'s police watchdog says Penticton RCMP not responsible for in custody death | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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B.C.'s police watchdog says Penticton RCMP not responsible for in custody death

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August 13, 2020 - 10:56 AM

Investigator's with B.C.'s police watchdog have concluded Penticton RCMP officers were not responsible for the death of a man in their custody.

The man was apprehended on Nov. 8, 2019 following complaints of someone shoplifting at a Penticton grocery store, according to report released today, Aug. 13, by Independent Investigations Office of B.C.

A police officer caught the suspect and attempted to talk to him, but the man ran away. The officer chased him down, took hold of his arm and swung the man around, causing him to fall on his right side. Other officers arrived and the man was handcuffed and taken to the Penticton RCMP detachment.

The suspect was later released without being charged, but was taken to the hospital where he was certified under the Mental Health Act. The man developed breathing difficulties and on Nov. 11 was found to have three broken ribs on his right side.

He was treated for the injuries but on Nov. 14 he became acutely short of breath and died suddenly.

The autopsy report listed the cause of death as a pulmonary thromboembolism (blockages of blood vessels in the lungs caused by blood clots migrating from the legs). The report also noted three broken ribs on the right side, one of which had penetrated the lining of the inside of the chest wall.

The report noted evidence from several civilian witnesses and video footage, which demonstrated the arresting officer did no more than to grab and pull the suspect’s arm, causing him to fall onto the ground on his right side.

The injuries were caused, not by excessive force, but by landing on a concrete curb between the sidewalk and roadway.

The civilian descriptions of the incident ranged from the suspect "trying to get up and walk away," to "struggling" and "fighting."

The report concluded police used no more force than necessary to restrain the suspect in handcuffs, also noting the autopsy report concluded the cause of death was due to a pre-existing medical condition, rather than any injury caused during the arrest.

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