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ASIRT investigating after man found in medical distress in Ponoka RCMP holding cell dies

ASIRT is investigating after a man was found in medical distress in an RCMP cell.
ASIRT is investigating after a man was found in medical distress in an RCMP cell. File / Global News

The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team is investigating after a 59-year-old man was found in medical distress inside a holding cell at the Ponoka RCMP detachment. He later died in hospital, ASIRT said Monday.

In a news release, ASIRT said RCMP were called on Sept. 9 to help EMS with a call about an intoxicated man.

“The man initially refused medical attention, but after some discussion he was transported to Red Deer Regional Hospital, where he was examined by medical professionals who conducted a CT scan and later released him,” ASIRT said.

The next day just before 11 p.m., RCMP were called about the same man. Officers found him lying on the ground, exhibiting signs of intoxication.

“He was taken, without incident, into custody for being intoxicated in a public place, and placed in a cell at the Ponoka RCMP detachment,” ASIRT said. “The next morning, at about 5:51 a.m., the man fell in his cell. He was checked and was responsive to staff.

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“At about 7 a.m., when the man failed to wake up, staff entered his cell but he remained unresponsive. Staff provided emergency medical care until EMS arrived to take over and transport the man to Red Deer Regional Hospital.

“Upon examination, it is believed that the man had, at some point, sustained a significant head injury. He was admitted in critical condition,” ASIRT said.

At about 9 p.m., he was pronounced dead.

ASIRT’s investigation will focus on the police contact with the man, including during his detention in custody. The RCMP Major Crimes Unit has assumed conduct of the investigation into what may have happened to the man in the days leading to his death, outside of his contact with police.

“The RCMP believes in processes that seek the facts and it’s important that processes taken to assess the actions of all those involved, including the police, are fair, transparent and defendable,” the RCMP news release said.

“The RCMP’s internal review process, in conjunction with the ASIRT process, has been implemented to gather a full account of what took place during this incident.”

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