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Man did not die by police force: coroner

A Whitehorse man who died in police custody last week did not succumb to physical injuries, says Yukon’s chief coroner.

A Whitehorse man who died in police custody last week did not succumb to physical injuries, says Yukon’s chief coroner.

“He had no injuries on his body that would account for his death,” said Sharon Hanley.

Grant McLeod, 39, died on Saturday, August 30, shortly after police arrested him.

RCMP responded to a call around 7 a.m. that a man in the Chilkoot Trail Inn was staggering around with a needle in his hand.

Two officers were unable to subdue McLeod. They called for backup.

More officers arrived and, after a struggle, the man was subdued. Shortly afterwards, police report the man was in “medical distress.”

McLeod was declared dead at hospital an hour after police responded to the call.

Vancouver RCMP is leading an investigation into how Whitehorse police handled the call. It is customary to call in another police detachment to investigate in-custody deaths.

It will be at least a month until a full autopsy is complete, Hanley said, because her office must wait for the results of a variety of lab tests.

Family safe after SUV flips

A sports utility vehicle carrying a family with three children flipped after colliding with a car at the intersection of Thompson Road and Hamilton Boulevard on Tuesday morning.

No one was injured, say police, citing the incident as a reminder of the importance of wearing seat belts and using child-safety seats.

The Honda Pilot was travelling north on Hamilton Boulevard when it was struck on its side by a four-door sedan travelling west off Hamilton Road. The impact rolled the SUV on its roof.

A 16-year-old Whitehorse male has been charged with failing to yield the right of way.

Police will not speak to the cause of the collision, other than to say that weather, speed, or alcohol are not to blame.

New emergency radio network in works

When a Yukon conservation officer wants to reach a police officer by radio, they must first call Whitehorse, even if the officer is within eyesight.

Such inconveniences are expected to be a thing of the past, after a new emergency radio system is installed across the territory by the summer of 2010.

Work has begun on the new network, which comes with a hefty price tag: $10 million will be paid by the Yukon government to Texas-based EF Johnson Technologies, which won a public tender this summer to provide radios, support equipment and software for the new system.

Replacing the existing system now is important because the existing radio network is 20 years old, said Lisa Badenhorst, the Yukon government’s telecommunications project manager.

The old system’s manufacturer is out of business, and parts are becoming hard to replace.

 “So far there have been no major incidents” with the existing system, said Badenhorst.

The new system, like the old, will cover all of the Yukon’s communities and major roads.

And it will be able to do more, such as connect workers from different agencies directly, without them first calling headquarters.

 There will be no need to replace all existing radios, because old radios will continue to work under the new system, added Badenhorst.

The new technology will use the Voice over Internet Protocol, or VOIP, to transmit information.

“That doesn’t mean it is on the internet,” said Badenhorst. “It’s a separate system.”

The system may even be used to transmit photos wirelessly.

Northwestel signed a 15-year service agreement with the Yukon government to build, operate and maintain the network.

Badenhorst said she did not know how much that agreement was worth.