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Cambridge man dies in custody

Sudden death in halfway house sparks three investigations

Nathan VanderKlippe & Kevin Wilson
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Nov 26/01) - Police, the coroner's office and the Department of Justice are investigating the sudden death of a Cambridge Bay man at an Iqaluit halfway house.

Twenty-year-old Colin Kaotalok was pronounced dead at Baffin Regional Hospital late Friday night.

The Cambridge Bay resident was serving a 10-month sentence for failure to comply and assault causing bodily harm. He had been in custody since May and was convicted June 14.

According to a press release from the office of the premier, Kaotalok had completed a treatment program and was approved to live at the Halfway House and work in the community for the remainder of his sentence.

He was employed by a local construction company and scheduled to be released shortly.

RCMP Iqaluit detachment commander Mike Jeffrey confirmed police are looking into the death.

"Yes, we are investigating," said Jeffrey. He added that at this time, police do not consider the death to be the result of foul play.

Grief counsellors and a social worker from the Iqaluit Young Offenders Centre were called in to work with the offenders and staff on scene.

Annette Bourgeois, a spokesperson for the Premier and Justice Minister Paul Okalik, said that an internal investigation is underway by Corrections and Community Justice officials.

Kaotalok's body has been flown to Edmonton, where a partial autopsy will be performed by a forensic pathologist. A toxicology examination has also been ordered.

Kaotalok's body will be flown back to Cambridge Bay after the autopsy.

Administrative coroner Tim Neily concurred with police that foul play is not suspected.

Frank Pearce, the coroner handling the case, said he does not know when information on cause of death will be available.

"I'm not going to be saying anything very much because there's a possibility of an inquest," he said.

Neily said a public inquest would probably be held sometime in the new year.