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

More burning prohibitions rescinded in southeast B.C.

Category 2 and 3 fires will be permitted in Southeast Fire Centre as of 1p.m. on Wednesday.

Cops For Kids’ southeast B.C. tour rolls on

Annual RCMP fundraiser will see 34 cyclists ride 1,000 kilometres raising funds

Municipal spending outpaces population growth 4-fold in B.C.: report

Canadian Federation of Independent Business has released its annual operational spending report

B.C. parents leery of HPV cervical cancer vaccine

Provincial registration uptake among lowest in Canada

Winlaw preemie survives smoky birth

GoFundMe Campaign started for West Kootenay family with preemie baby.

B.C. RCMP turn to Const. Scarecrow to shock speeders into slowing down

New addition will watch over drivers from a Coquitlam median for first-of-its-kind pilot in Canada

B.C. home to 1/3 of Canada’s overdose deaths in first 3 months of the year

There were 1,036 overdose deaths in the first three months of the year, with 94 per cent accidental

B.C. candidate moves from hospice care to council race

He beat terminal cancer twice and entered hospice when he decided to run for council.

Canadian tobacco exec pushes back against vaping health concerns

A warning from Interior Health about the unknown health risks of vaping is getting a partial rebuke

Ministry of Agriculture commits $300,000 to help B.C. farmers obtain land

B.C. Land Matching Program supports access to affordable farmland for young farmers

Canadian air force short 275 pilots

Attrition outpaces recruitment and training claims Air Force

Teacher suspended after physically shushing, saying ‘shut up’ to student

Grade 5 student reported feeling ‘confused and a little scared’

A B.C. society helps to reforest Crown land after wildfires

Forest Enhancement Society of BC focuses on wildfire mitigation and the reforestation

Most Read