The B.C. Independent Investigations Office has cleared Campbell River RCMP of any wrongdoing in a jail cell drug overdose death last summer.
A man was arrested in June 2022 after police received a 911 call about him allegedly violating his court conditions by not attending an addictions treatment center. He was also using drugs at the time.
He was arrested and booked at the local jail where officers noted he had “poor balance, slurred speech and a sleepy demeanour,” according to the IIO report.
Officers conducted a search of him before placing him in a cell and giving him a blanket.
About 12 hours later, a guard was unable to rouse the man and called for help.
The report states the man was in medical distress and police officers began immediate life saving measures, including Narcan, use of a defibrillator and CPR.
“An examination of the cell resulted in the discovery of a butane lighter, a small circular container and an unidentified brown substance. Subsequent analysis showed that the brown substance contained fentanyl and a benzodiazepine,” the report states.
While the man was able to be stabilized at hospital, he was declared brain dead, and life support was stopped the next day.
The death was attributed to fentanyl toxicity.
The IIO ruled the officers had conducted a thorough search of the man before booking, seen on video recordings from the RCMP detachment.
A strip search would not have been warranted under the circumstances because there were no reasonable rounds to suspect the person was bringing contraband into the facility that would not be uncovered through a conventional search.
“AP’s (affected person) death was not the result of any culpable failure on the part of Officer 1. It was the result of AP’s decision to smuggle lethal substances into his cell, and his subsequent decision to consume them,” the IIO said.
The case is now closed.