An independent observer is being dispatched to Whitehorse to monitor the RCMP investigation into events surrounding the Tuesday evening in-custody death of Raymond Silverfox.
The observer is a civilian, rather than an RCMP officer, and is tasked with assessing the “impartiality” of the RCMP investigative process, said Nelson Kalil, communications manager for the Commission for Public Complaints against the RCMP.
All in-custody deaths immediately merit an autopsy and investigation, but the Silverfox investigation will be the first time the Independent Observer Program is used outside of British Columbia.
Launched in 2007, “it was borne out from the public and media’s concern of the police investigating themselves,” said Kalil.
Silverfox, 43, was arrested by RCMP at 5:05 a.m. at the Salvation Army for “disturbing the peace.” He was placed in an RCMP cell.
After 13 hours and 38 minutes in detention, Silverfox was transported to Whitehorse General Hospital after he went into “medical distress,” said an official RCMP release.
He was pronounced dead at 9:13 p.m.
Results from Silverfox’s autopsy are expected later today, said Yukon coroner Sharon Hanley.
Hanley cited three previous in-custody deaths that have prompted similar investigations.
On Christmas Day, 1990, Sean Tibbett died by hanging while in police custody. A jury at inquest would later rule it to be suicide.
In March 2000, Fred Stewart died of “accidental death from acute alcohol poisoning.”
Three months later, in June 2000, Madeleine Henry died of complications from pneumonia.
The three coroner’s inquests prompted a series of recommendations to the RCMP, the majority of which have been “dealt with,” said Hanley.