‘Abnormality in the lungs’ likely cause of man’s death

Preliminary autopsy results have shown that “something in the lungs” contributed to Raymond Silverfox’s death in police custody…

Preliminary autopsy results have shown that “something in the lungs” contributed to Raymond Silverfox’s death in police custody last Tuesday night.

Silverfox had an “abnormality” or “sickness” within the lungs, but more tests are needed to determine the exact nature of the condition, said chief coroner Sharon Hanley.

He was found to have no other injuries.

According to police reports, Silverfox was detained for more than 13 hours before signs of “medical distress” prompted him to be taken to the Whitehorse General Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.

Under the Yukon Liquor Act, authorities cannot detain an intoxicated individual for longer than 12 hours. However, Silverfox was detained for disturbing the peace, a Criminal Code violation, according to police.

An individual held in the drunk tank can be released before 12 hours if they have recovered to a point where they’re “unlikely to cause injury to themselves or be a danger, nuisance, or disturbance to others,” reads the Yukon Liquor Act.

In Ontario, intoxicated persons are taken by authorities to a detoxification centre rather than police cells. The detoxification centres have no power to detain, but previous audits have shown that “people rarely leave” until they have sufficiently recovered.

A detainee can also be released if a capable friend or associate offers to take care of the individual upon their release.

At 5:05 a.m. last Tuesday, the RCMP arrested Silverfox after a disturbance at the Salvation Army shelter on Black Street.

Silverfox was “quite ill” at the time of his arrest, Salvation Army Captain Robert Sessford told CBC Radio One last Thursday.

Silverfox is the fourth person to die in RCMP cells in the last 10 years.

Three previous cell deaths, all of which occurred between 1999 and 2000, prompted recommendations to the RCMP from the Yukon coroner’s service.

The March, 2000 death of Fred Stewart by alcohol poisoning prompted the coroner’s office to recommend a new policy for officers to recognize the “medical conditions of prisoners, including alcohol poisoning and drug overdose.”

After the June, 2000 in-custody death of Madeleine Henry by complications from pneumonia, police guards were recommended to “document, in log notes, whether they have completed a physical or monitor check on a prisoner.”

Contact Tristin Hopper at tristinh@yukon-news.com

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