Inquest to examine man's death following arrestWilfred Emile found 'medically distressed' in RCMP cell last fall, died days later
Northern News Services
Friday, August 26, 2016
A coroner's inquest will be held next month to examine the death of a man who fell ill while inside an RCMP cell in Fort Smith last fall.
A coroner's inquest has been called to examine the circumstances surrounding the death of a man who was found in medical distress in Fort Smith RCMP cells last fall. - photo courtesy of RCMP
Wilfred Emile was in a holding cell in the South Slave town Oct. 16 when he became "medically distressed," according to NWT chief coroner Cathy Menard.
The 66-year-old man was taken to the Fort Smith Health Centre and then medevaced to Edmonton, RCMP stated in a news release last year that did not identify him by name. Emile was taken back to Fort Smith where he died Oct. 26, Menard said. It's unclear what the man's medical condition was when he was returned to Fort Smith.
Before the man died, RCMP had called in Medicine Hat, Alta. police to "ensure a thorough review of the matter."
In a news release last year, Medicine Hat police stated the preliminary investigation found there was no evidence "the man's medical distress was the result of any criminal act or omission."
Legislation in place at the time of his death means a coroner's inquest is mandatory under the circumstances. The NWT Coroners Act has since been amended to give discretion to the coroner if the death resulted from natural causes.
Inquests are similar to court where witnesses are summoned to testify before a jury of six people selected from the community.
The jury hears evidence from witnesses and then comes up with findings as to who, what, when, where and why regarding the death.
Inquest juries typically also offer lists of recommendations to prevent similar deaths in the future.
"Recommendations are highly desirable," Menard said.
Menard wasn't able to say last week how many witnesses may be called during the inquest, expected to last several days.
She said witnesses will likely include RCMP, Medicine Hat police and medical staff who dealt with Emile.
"The RCMP works with the Northwest Territories Office of the Chief Coroner on any in-custody death inquests. This is standard procedure. We await the coroner's inquest results," stated RCMP spokesperson Marie York-Condon in an e-mail last week when asked for a comment about the inquest.
The inquest into Emile's death will begin Sept. 27 at the Pelican Rapids Inn. It will be open to the public.
The last coroner's inquest in the territory was in Yellowknife in 2013 that examined the death of 42-year-old Karen Lander, Menard said.
Lander was shot four times by RCMP in March, 2012 at the end of a four-hour standoff in the city when she exited a home holding a rifle.