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On Feb. 23, police responded to a residence following a call of a disturbance. Officers dealt with the 43-year-old man and the matter was resolved without charges and without incident. On Feb. 24, at about 12:22 p.m., members of the EPS Police and Crisis Team (PACT) attended to the man’s location as a follow-up and to do a well-being check. PACT is an integrated unit comprising both police officers employed by EPS and mental health workers employed by Alberta Health Services (AHS). Based on the information they received and observations of the man’s behaviour, police apprehended the man pursuant to the provisions of the Mental Health Act, to convey him to a hospital for further assessment and treatment. The apprehension proceeded without incident. At about 1:27 p.m., officers transported the man to the Royal Alexandra Hospital (RAH), where the man was placed in a secure room in the emergency department for further assessment and treatment.
Once at RAH, hospital staff asked the police officers to assist them in moving the man to another secure room on a different unit. At about 2:22 p.m., as they entered the secure room to transfer the man to the other unit, a physical altercation occurred between the man, three EPS officers and staff, including three security peace officers. During the incident, one police officer deployed a conducted energy weapon (CEW). Once they gained sufficient control over the man, medical personnel administered medication. Shortly thereafter, the man became unresponsive and while emergency medical treatment was immediately provided, the man could not be revived and was pronounced dead.
ASIRT may be called in to investigate any incident where police conduct may have caused or contributed to serious injury or death. Additionally, when a person sustains serious injury or dies while in police custody, even if the incident occurs in a hospital, it is considered objectively serious and may require an independent investigation to determine whether police caused the serious injury or death and, if so, whether those involved were acting within their lawful authority and in the lawful execution of their duties.
An in-custody event is broadly defined as, for example, a situation where a person is under arrest, contained on a scene, or detained in custodial setting, or where police have some ability and/or authority to control the movements of a person. When an investigation is ordered, it is a reflection of the gravity of circumstances where a person dies while in police custody and should not be interpreted as an indication that there is a belief, at the outset of the investigation, that police acted improperly. The investigation is meant to provide an independent, objective examination of the event to determine whether police involvement caused the death and, if so, whether police acted properly in the lawful execution of their duties, and to provide a measure of transparency to those involved and the public.
In this case, ASIRT’s investigation will examine the conduct of both the police and peace officers during this incident, including the circumstances surrounding the altercation within the hospital, in order to determine what, if any, conduct may have caused or contributed to the man’s medical distress and, if the evidence suggests that it did, whether that conduct was lawful.
As ASIRT’s investigation is underway, no further information will be released at this time.
This release is distributed by the Government of Alberta on behalf of the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team.