The Edmonton Police Service has laid its first manslaughter charge in relation to a man’s death caused by a fentanyl overdose.
Acting Staff Sgt. for the Homicide Section Dave Monson said this is the first time the EPS has charged a drug dealer with manslaughter. He said there have been cases elsewhere, but wouldn’t elaborate.
The EPS said this charge should send a message to anyone dealing fentanyl or other drugs.
“Anybody who is providing or dealing in those controlled substances can be and will be held responsible for the deaths if we have the evidence to lay the charge,” Monson said.
“We take all our sudden death investigations very seriously and if there’s evidence to lay a charge, we will be laying those charges. So, the dealers need to know that.”
Officers found the body of a man in the hallway of a residence near 33 Street and 18 Avenue on Wednesday, Jan. 27 at around 1:30 p.m.
Autopsy and toxicology results confirmed 33-year-old Szymon Kalich died from a fentanyl overdose.
Following an “extensive investigation,” homicide detectives charged 25-year-old Jordan Yarmey with manslaughter in connection with the death.
Monson said the manslaughter charge was laid in this case because police believe they could prove the accused knew the drug was likely to cause harm.
“If you can prove that they knew they were trafficking a controlled substance – in this case, it was fentanyl – and a reasonable person at the time would know that the controlled substance is likely to cause bodily harm and you can show that controlled substance caused the death, those satisfied the elements of manslaughter,” he said.
He would not say if the victim knew he was taking fentanyl. Monson confirmed the accused supplied the drug to the victim.
Yarmey’s court appearance was scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 27.
He was charged with trafficking drugs in connection with the Jan. 27 incident but has yet to defend himself in court on that charge.
With files from Kendra Slugoski, Global News