An inquest will be held into the death of Robert Stone, coroner Sharon Hanley said Monday.
The announcement came hours after Medicine Hat police cleared local RCMP in any wrongdoing associated with his death.
Stone, 34, died May 2, eight hours after being released from RCMP custody.
He was found dead at the city’s detox centre.
Five months later, Hanley still won’t say how Stone died.
“Releasing those details would jeopardize the (inquest) process,” said Hanley.
But Medicine Hat police say it has nothing to do with how RCMP or ambulance attendants handled him. Whitehorse RCMP contacted the police force in May to independently investigate Stone’s death.
“I can say, unequivocally, there is no evidence that Mr. Stone’s passing was a result of misconduct or criminal behaviour by anyone who had contact with him in the 24 hours before his passing, including authorities,” said Medicine Hat Insp. Glen Motz.
Stone’s family and friends filed a complaint with the Commission for Complaints Against the RCMP shortly after Stone’s death.
They were concerned by bruises and prong-like marks they found peppering Stone’s head post-autopsy.
They worried his head had been slammed by the door of a police cruiser and that his body had been Tasered.
But Medicine Hat police say those marks weren’t caused by police.
They occurred after Stone died.
“The condition of any body changes dramatically after an autopsy,” said Motz.
The pre-autopsy doesn’t support any of the family’s allegations, he added.
However, Motz did acknowledge that Stone had an abrasion on his right eye and right cheek before being handed over to ambulance personnel in the early evening of May 1, 2009.
How Stone got those abrasions is not clear.
“It could have been a result of a fall,” said Motz.
The Medicine Hat police travelled to the Yukon conducting “dozens and dozens and dozens,” of interviews to piece together the 24 hours preceding Stone’s death, said Sgt. Brent Secondiak.
They also collected audio and video footage from stores near the Petro-Can gas station on Fourth Avenue where Stone was picked up by the ambulance.
“Some individuals found him and called an ambulance because they were concerned for his safety,” said Motz.
But Motz wouldn’t say why exactly the ambulance was called.
On the morning of May 1, Stone was released from the Whitehorse Correctional Centre after spending two months there.
He was seen at the Salvation Army and throughout downtown that day. He had also been drinking, said family friend Irma Scarff, in an earlier interview with the News.
After being picked up by ambulance attendants, the RCMP were called when Stone became “combative,” said Motz.
Stone was held in RCMP cells for five hours.
“Video and audio recordings confirm there was no misconduct by the RCMP then,” said Motz.
Later that evening, Stone’s health deteriorated and RCMP called on emergency medical services.
After being released from hospital, Stone checked himself into the city’s detox centre in the early hours of May 2nd.
He was found dead at 10 a.m.
Stone’s death occurred mere days after the highly publicized inquest of Raymond Silverfox – who died after detention in the police drunk tank.
That fact prompted the RCMP to seek out an independent investigation, said Motz.
“But people should be careful not to blanket one incident with another,” he said.
“(The Stone incident) is a totally different matter than what was experienced in the past.”
Peter Stone, Robert’s uncle, refused comment on the results of the Medicine Hat police investigation.
A date still hasn’t been set for the coroner’s inquest.
Contact Vivian Belik at firstname.lastname@example.org