The IIO has cleared Surrey RCMP of any wrongdoing after a woman died in custody earlier this year. (File photo)

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

Eke Me-Xi students enjoy a field trip to Malcolm Island. (Submitted photos)
Eke Me-Xi Learning Centre takes field trip to Malcolm Island

Once at Bere Point, students made themselves at home in the day-use area

Mount Waddington Regional Fall Fair logo
Mount Waddington Regional Fall Fair cancelled again due to COVID-19 restrictions

The 2022 fall fair is still scheduled to take place in Port Hardy

North Island Gazette
EDITORIAL: What to do about homelessness in Port Hardy

‘people suffering from homelessness deserve to be treated with dignity and compassion’

North Island Eagles logo
North Island Eagles give update on the upcoming 2021-2022 season

The North Island Eagles minor rep hockey teams are getting ready for… Continue reading

Ma Murrays 2021 virtual ceremony screenshot
North Island Gazette wins big at 2021 Ma Murray Newspaper Awards

Zoe Ducklow and Bill McQuarrie both won gold at the online ceremony

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

Photos displayed at a vigil for former Nanaimo outreach worker Amy Watts, whose body was found June 3 and whose death RCMP are investigating as a homicide. (News Bulletin photo)
‘We need to do better,’ says mother of woman killed in Nanaimo

Vigil held for former outreach worker Amy Watts, whose body was found downtown June 3

Thousands of protesters make their way through the downtown core during a Black Lives Matter protest in Ottawa, Friday June 5, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
MPs’ study of systemic racism in policing concludes RCMP needs new model

Chair of the House public safety committee says it’s time for a reckoning on ‘quasi-military’ structure

A case filled with packages of boneless chicken breasts is shown in a grocery store Sunday, May 10, 2020, in southeast Denver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-David Zalubowski
One million chickens euthanized during labour dispute at Quebec slaughterhouse

Premier says waste amounts to 13 per cent of the province’s chicken production thrown in the garbage

Premier of Manitoba Brian Pallister speaks at a news conference at the Manitoba Legislative Building in Winnipeg on Wednesday, April 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/David Lipnowski
Provincial leaders want more federal money for health care, plan to meet in fall

Premiers ask Ottawa to increase its share of overall health spending to 35 per cent from 22 per cent

A section of the eastern slopes of the Canadian Rockies is seen west of Cochrane, Alta., Thursday, June 17, 2021. A joint federal-provincial review has denied an application for an open-pit coal mine in Alberta’s Rocky Mountains, saying its impacts on the environment and Indigenous rights aren’t worth the economic benefits it would bring. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Panel says Grassy Mountain coal mine in Alberta Rockies not in public interest

Public hearings on the project in southern Alberta’s Crowsnest Pass region were held last fall

An old growth cedar stands in a cut-block within the Caycuse Valley. More than 100 prominent Canadians, have signed an open letter calling for the immediate protection of all remaining old-growth forests in B.C. (Submitted)
Brian Mulroney and Greta Thunberg among 100 celebrities pushing to save B.C. old growth

List includes Indigenous leaders, scientists, authors, Oscar winners

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on Friday, February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
U.S. border restrictions to remain in place until at least July 21

Safety minister says Canada, U.S. extending restrictions on non-essential international travel

Most Read