Inquest called into death of Manitoba man in police custody last year

Manitoba’s chief medical examiner has called an inquest into the death of a man who became unresponsive after being taken into police custody on Ebb and Flow First Nation last October.

Lawrence Beaulieu, 27, was arrested on Oct. 30, 2020, after RCMP responded to reports of him waving a machete around and threatening people in the community, a news release from the office of chief medical examiner Dr. John K. Younes said on Friday.

Ebb and Flow is about 185 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg.

Beaulieu resisted arrest when Mounties found him in a family member’s home that day, but eventually was subdued. He was put in handcuffs and a spit sock was put on him after he tried to spit on officers, the release said.

Beaulieu also resisted being put in a cell once he was taken to the RCMP detachment and “had to be subdued and taken to the ground” so police could take his handcuffs off, the release said.

After that happened, officers noticed he was unresponsive, the release said. He stopped breathing shortly afterwards.

Emergency medical services were called and failed to resuscitate Beaulieu at the detachment and later at the hospital. He was pronounced dead shortly after 4 p.m.

An autopsy determined his cause of death was mainly cardiac arrhythmia due to methamphetamine toxicity, though the physiologic stress of the struggle with police also contributed. The manner of Beaulieu’s death was undetermined.

Under provincial law, there are certain factors that automatically trigger an inquest into a person’s death, including if the person died while in police custody. Where and when the inquest will happen will be decided later, the release said.

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