Review in overdose death of woman at home of former Brandon bureaucrat finds no fault in police investigation

An RCMP review of the circumstances surrounding the death of a woman who overdosed in the home of Brandon’s city manager has found nothing wrong with the Brandon police investigation.

Christine Mitchell, 30, died in July 2019 after she overdosed while living at the home of Rod Sage, the City of Brandon’s chief administrative officer. 

Mitchell had taken a lethal dose of purple heroin — heroin mixed with fentanyl, carfentanil or other opioids.

Sage was also a non-voting member of the Brandon Police Board at the time.

That connection prompted Cliff Cullen, Manitoba’s justice minister at the time, to call in October 2019 for an RCMP review of how Brandon police handled the file.

On Thursday, current Justice Minister Cameron Friesen released a statement saying the review found the Brandon Police Service “conducted an appropriate and professional investigation” into Mitchell’s death.

An RCMP spokesperson told CBC in February that the review had been completed and the report forwarded to the province for review.

“My heartfelt condolences go out to the [Mitchell] family on their loss,” Friesen said in Thursday’s statement.

Christine Mitchell, right, lived in the home of Brandon city manager Rod Sage, left, for nearly five years before she died of a heroin overdose. (City of Brandon; Christine Mitchell/Facebook)

The review did find concerns with the timeliness of reporting the overdose death to police and the Office of the Medical Examiner. The delay was deemed to be due to a misinterpretation of the Fatality Inquiries Act by the Brandon Regional Health Centre, Friesen said.

The medical examiner’s office and Prairie Mountain Health have since reviewed the requirements under the Fatality Inquires Act and the Brandon Regional Health Centre has updated its policies, he said.

Sage retired from his position as CAO in February 2020 after being placed on paid administrative leave due to the investigation.

He had worked for the city since 1987 and was promoted to city manager in November 2017.

The City of Brandon began a search to hire a new manager and announced earlier this year that it had hired Ron Bowles to fill the role. Bowles, born in Winnipeg, was working as general manager of the City of Campbell River in B.C.

He will start his new position later this month.

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