3 recent in-custody deaths being investigated: Prince Albert police

A 33-year-old man’s death is being investigated as an in-custody death.

The Prince Albert Police Service (PAPS) said in a media release that the Saskatchewan Coroner’s Service and Saskatoon Police Service will be leading the investigation, along with two independent observers from the Ministry of Corrections, Policing and Public Safety to provide oversight.

This is the third in-custody death in recent weeks.

“Each is a tragedy for our community and a devastating loss for families who have lost loved ones,” according to the PAPS statement. “As a police service, we recognize there are many questions and we acknowledge concerns from community leaders, residents, and advocacy groups about safety, supervision, and oversight in police cells.”

Read more: Prince Albert Grand Council wants answers into two recent in-custody deaths

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The first incident PAPS is investigating is the death of a 29-year-old man. During the early hours of Oct. 5, police were called to the Victoria Hospital for a disturbance report. PAPS indicated the man went into medical distress and later died in hospital on Oct. 12.

“While the male was in police custody for a brief period of time, he remained at the hospital,” according to a PAPS statement. “Police are treating this investigation as an in-custody death and an independent observer has been assigned by the province to oversee this investigation.”

The second death involved a 35-year-old man who was arrested on Oct. 8. This case is being investigated by the Saskatchewan RCMP.

Read more: Inmate dies at Prince Albert, Sask. correctional centre

“The man was remanded into custody following his arrest and was located unresponsive in his cell at the Prince Albert Police Service just after 7 p.m. on October 11,” according to a PAPS statement. “He was transported to hospital, where he was later pronounced deceased.”

PAPS stated thorough investigative processes into in-custody deaths can be lengthy, taking months or even years.

“Our organization recognizes the strain that can result from such investigations and the impact that these investigations can have on trust and relationships within the community,” PAPS said.

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PAPS stated while they wait for investigation findings, they will be reviewing recommendations from previous coroner’s inquests into in-custody death investigations.

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