The IIO has cleared Surrey RCMP of any wrongdoing after a woman died in custody earlier this year. (File photo)

RCMP cleared after woman fatally overdoses on fentanyl

Charges not recommended after IIO says woman appears to have brought fentanyl into her cell

The police watchdog has cleared Surrey RCMP of any wrongdoing after a woman appears to have died of a fentanyl overdose while in custody earlier this year.

The report, issued Aug. 17 by the Independent Investigations Office, found officers didn’t use force on the woman, and that evidence collected “does not provide grounds to consider any charges.”

The IIO also found there was no causal connection between the woman’s death, and any action or inaction on the part of police.

On May 5, 2018, the woman, who has not been named, was arrested on three outstanding arrest warrants.

The next day, she received a bail hearing and was remanded into custody. Earlier that day, a nurse gave her 500mg of Advil to help with “pain to a finger.”

On May 7, she was found not breathing in her cell.

A weak pulse was detected when a guard checked on her at 9:39 a.m. and she didn’t rouse, according to IIO’s report.

Earlier that morning, a guard reported she was “alert” and “moving within her cell,” until she lay down and appeared to go to sleep at 8:41 a.m.

A guard also said she appeared to be sleeping, and breathing at a subsequent check at 9:23 a.m.

At 9:39 a.m., when she was found laying face down, jail staff tried to help her by administering oxygen, CPR and injecting her with more than one round of naloxone.

Her lips were blue at that time, the report notes.

She was taken to hospital, and was pronounced dead on May 12, 2018.

Video footage suggested the woman had something in her hand, believed to be a “white paper wrap” that was later determined to contain “traces of white powder,” IIO’s report noted.

The contents were tested and found to be fentanyl.

IIO was not able to determine how she got the drugs but noted it it would appear “she hid them somewhere on her person when she was placed in cells.”

“She was facing away from the camera and it is not possible to see what she did with the paper,” noted the report. “It is assumed she ingested drugs, given the presence of amphetamine and fentanyl in her system after she was taken to hospital.”

The report notes a strip search may have found the drugs, but states that the law allows for searches when police have reasonable grounds to believe the person is hiding weapons or evidence related to their offence.

In this case, “there were no grounds for a strip search,” the IIO found.

To make its recommendation, IIO reviewed CCTV footage from RCMP detachment cells, took statements from officers involved as well as jail guards and emergency responders, and conducted drug tests. IIO also looked at the medical evidence and examined the scene.

A civilian witness told IIO that the woman’s chart showed she’d used heroin and alcohol the day prior, and that she was a daily drinker.



amy.reid@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Amy on Twitter

Just Posted

Castlegar’s Waterline property purchased; owners to protect it for rock climbers

New owners plan to subdivide, sell bluffs to recreational climbing group

Grand Forks daycare now part of universal childcare program

The spaces will now cost a maximum of $200 per month.

Josie Hotel will be ready on opening day, says management

West Kootenay’s first ski-in, ski-out boutique hotel to open this month

Letter: City hall flag needs to be replaced

Legion member Sandra Doody said the City Hall flag is embarassing.

Children’s books needed for Christmas hampers

Considering donating some books this Christmas.

Fashion Fridays: 5 coats you need this winter!

Kim XO, lets you know the best online shopping tips during Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Federal fall update expected to offer more support for struggling news industry

Ottawa committed $50 million over five years for local journalism in ‘underserved communities’ last budget

UK’s May appeals to public on Brexit, braces for more blows

British Prime Minister Theresa May answered questions from callers on a radio phone-in, the day after she vowed to stay in office

VIDEO: Stan Lee leaves posthumous message for his fans

Marvel Comics’ co-creator died on Monday at the age of 95

Woman searching for father last seen in Nelson in 1999

Johnson’s daughter, Chandra Machin, is searching for her father

$136M in transit funding coming to B.C.

The announcement was made at the BC Transit yard in Langford on Friday morning

Ottawa apologizes to Japanese family in B.C. after chopping historic cherry trees

Plaque installed in Prince Rupert to honour the memory of Shotaro Shimizu

Two B.C. police officers, held in Cuba for months, cleared of sex assault allegations

Port Moody Const. Jordan Long and Vancouver Const. Mark Simms have been in Cuba since March

Sunrise ceremony at B.C. legislature honours Louis Riel

Nov. 16 marks the 133rd anniversary of the Métis leader’s death

Most Read