Whitehorse RCMP will investigate five of its officers for misconduct in the handling of Raymond Silverfox while in police custody.
In December 2008, Silverfox spent more than 13 hours moaning and crawling around a cell filthy with his own urine, feces and vomit, a coroner’s
inquest heard last month.
Police and guards joked and laughed about Silverfox’s situation.
He vomited 26 times while in custody, but emergency medical services were not called until Silverfox’s heart stopped beating and he was found
He was pronounced dead two hours later, having died from an acute infection that he likely contracted by inhaling his own vomit.
“I am shocked and disappointed, as are many members of the RCMP, that Mr. Silverfox had to endure the insensitive and callous treatment he
endured while he was in our care,” said Supt. Peter Clark.
“We have failed you and we have failed ourselves.”
Clark, who is the commanding officer of the RCMP in the Yukon, made this announcement on the force’s website in a 10-minute video.
“We chose to provide a video so that not only the media, but the public would be able to see and hear what we have to say in its entirety,” said Don
In the video, Clark announced five officers are now being investigated for code of conduct violations.
The RCMP is not releasing the names of the officers under investigation.
However, during the coroner’s inquest Const. Geoff Corbett revealed he was under such an investigation.
When Silverfox asked Corbett for a mat to sleep on, the officer told him, “No, you can sleep in your own shit.”
The other four code-of-conduct investigations were launched after the revelations of the coroner’s inquest.
The most damning evidence came from an audio recorded in the cellblock, which was not discovered until just before the inquest.
The independent investigation was conducted by RCMP from outside the territory.
These officers were unaware the security camera footage of the Whitehorse cellblock also had an audio component.
Local RCMP had no input or influence over that investigation, so they could not point this out to the investigators.
Knowledge of the audio didn’t come out until three days before the inquest, when an officer was speaking with his lawyer and asked why they didn’t
just listen to the audio.
Corbett’s comments were captured in the audio.
And guards and officers are heard cracking jokes about Silverfox’s situation, calling it “gross” and “disgusting,” and laughing.
A code of conduct investigation is done whenever there are suspicions an officer has broken RCMP rules and regulations.
Each officer will be investigated separately and concurrently, said Rogers.
But it is unclear how long these investigations might take.
Clark said that he would be working to implement the recommendations of the coroner’s inquest, including creating a community consultative group to
review the issue of public intoxication.
Police will also be working with Justice to focus on three strategic priorities, including looking for an integrated approach to prolific offenders and
And RCMP will focus more on aboriginal policing needs and provide First Nations cultural awareness training for its officers.
Many changes have already been made to procedures at the RCMP drunk tank.
One change is that emergency medical services are now called more often when a prisoner is vomiting.
In 2008, EMS was called to cells 174 times to examine prisoners who were ill.
In 2009, the number of calls increased to 417, said Clark.
“It is my sincere hope that our efforts to adapt, modify and improve our operations will demonstrate that we are deserving of the public trust.”
Contact Chris Oke at email@example.com