ASIRT investigates death of man in custody at Calgary’s Spyhill Services Centre

The Calgary Police Service Spyhill Services Centre opens Wednesday, May 27, 2020.
The Calgary Police Service Spyhill Services Centre opens Wednesday, May 27, 2020. Jerry Favero, Global News

The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team has been called in to investigate after a man died in custody at Calgary’s Spyhill Services Centre.

Just after 5 p.m. Friday, Calgary police were called to the Marlborough CTrain Station after reports of a man with an airsoft gun. Police said the man was co-operative with officers and was taken into custody without incident. The arrest was captured on body-worn camera, the Calgary Police Service said in a media release Saturday night.

ASIRT said the 42-year-old man had an airsoft gun and alcohol on him. He was under a probation order that prohibits him from consuming or possessing alcohol, and was placed under arrest.

The man was charged with breach-related offences and taken to the Spyhill Services Centre — a new arrest processing building in the city’s northwest that opened in May.

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ASIRT said the man was cleared by a paramedic and placed in a holding cell around 6:15 p.m.

Read more: New Calgary Police Service arrest processing facility to open Wednesday

At 8 p.m. Friday, during a routine check of the cells, police said the man was eating his meal. But he was found unresponsive in his cell during the next check, which ASIRT said occurred at around 8:10 p.m.

Despite “significant lifesaving efforts,” Calgary police said the man was pronounced dead at about 8:40 p.m.

ASIRT said an autopsy revealed no signs of physical trauma to the man’s body. His identity has not been released.

ASIRT will now take over the investigation into the conduct of the police during the incident. Calgary police said that out of an abundance of caution, it will also review the incident.

“The (Calgary Police) Service has extensive systems and protocols already in place to ensure the care of arrestees, including medical clearance checks for every arrestee prior to being admitted into a cell, searches of individuals before being taken into custody, CCTV systems to monitor people in custody and regular cell checks,” the CPS said in a media release. “We have recently undergone significant work to ensure that our standards are in line with current best practices for in-custody care.”

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Read more: Calgary police break ground on new $25M Spyhill Services Centre

ASIRT is called in to investigate incidents that result in serious injury or death to any person, as well as serious or sensitive allegations of police misconduct.