RCMP cleared in Grand Forks death that followed wellness check

Sign for the Independent Investigations Office of B.C.
FILE. Independent Investigations Office

B.C.’s civilian police watchdog has cleared RCMP officers following the death of a man after a wellness check last June.

Grand Forks Mounties came under the scrutiny of the Independent Investigations Office after after two officers were sent to a man’s house on June 8 and he later died.

The office, which is tasked with overseeing RCMP interactions that end in death or serious harm, said Thursday that the officers did not conduct themselves improperly in any way.

In a report released Nov. 18, the IIO said the two police officers were sent to a Grand Forks man’s house at about 9:47 p.m. on June 8 after his sister called to say she hadn’t heard from him for a while and was concerned due to physical and mental health issues.

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Police went to the house. They called the man’s sister to say they saw him sleeping in his bed while the TV was on, breathing normally. They told her they would check again the next day.

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On June 9 around 2 p.m., a woman who “had been to (the man’s) residence many times in relation to his various health issues” went to his home and called 911 after finding him in his basement bedroom in medical distress.

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The report from the chief civilian director, Ron MacDonald, stated that hospital records indicate that the man was admitted in “grave” condition and died a few hours later.

The pathologist report indicates that he died of natural causes from numerous health issues, MacDonald wrote.

“There is no evidence that officers were negligent in conducting the wellness check.”

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When RCMP said he was sleeping normally, they were “under no duty to go further to wake him and assess him medically.”

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Indeed, that would have been a task they were “neither trained nor qualified” to do, he said.

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“There is no reason the officers could reasonably have foreseen that deterioration in (the man’s) health or that they conducted themselves in any way improperly,“ MacDonald concluded.

Editor’s note: This is a corrected story. A previous version stated that the man’s sister had found him in medical distress in his bedroom. It was another woman, who’d been to visit his home before, who found him. 

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