B.C.’s police watchdog is investigating the in-custody death of a 58-year-old woman at the White Rock RCMP detachment.
According to a police news release Tuesday evening, the woman was arrested last Friday (March 25) on an outstanding warrant and was being held for a March 29 court appearance.
At 7 a.m. Tuesday, police say, paramedics were called to assess the woman but that she remained in custody. No information on why paramedics were initially called has been provided.
Less than four hours later, according to the release, a guard saw the woman lying on the floor, unresponsive. Efforts to revive her were unsuccessful.
The Independent Investigations Office examines incidents involving police that result in serious injury or death. Tuesday’s in-custody death is the IIO’s first in White Rock since the agency was established in September 2012. Staff Sgt. Lesli Roseberry told Peace Arch News the only other in-custody death at her detachment occurred in 1998.
IIO spokesman Marten Youssef said investigators were on the scene Tuesday and Wednesday.
“The first step of every single one of our investigations is to first determine if there is a connection to the actions or inactions of police,” Youssef told PAN, noting the process includes interviewing officers and determining a timeline of events.
If there is no connection found between the death and police action/inaction, the case will be released back to the RCMP, he said.
Further information regarding the deceased, including her name and if she was a White Rock resident, is the responsibility of the B.C. Coroners Service, Youssef added.
Coroner Barb McLintock said the information would not be disclosed until next-of-kin notifications were complete.
“We’re not quite ready yet,” McLintock said Wednesday morning.
Youssef said that in any case, determining if there is a connection that warrants continued investigation by the IIO typically takes “a couple of weeks.”
Another in-custody death this month, involving Surrey RCMP on March 2, also remains under investigation by the IIO.
In that incident, a man collapsed and died following his arrest in connection with reports of a disturbance.