After watching Raymond Silverfox writhe in pain, vomit and soil himself, Douglas Jack Jr. suggested police assist the prisoner.
“We told them that this guy needs help,” Jack Jr., who shared the drunk tank with Silverfox, told a coroner’s inquest on Friday.
“(The police officer) just said, ‘Get your stuff on and get out of here, we’re very busy today.’
“(Silverfox) was really sick, I knew there was something wrong with him.
“He was letting his fluid go out of both ends and rolling around in the dirt. It was just getting worse.”
Silverfox died later that day while still in police custody.
Constable Daniel Bulford picked Silverfox up at the Salvation Army shelter early December 2.
When Silverfox was brought to the drunk tank, he noticed brown discolouration and wetness at the back of his pants, testified Bulford.
“I think he shit himself,” Bulford is recorded as saying. “How do you get that drunk? Listerine?”
The RCMP has a change of clothing available in case of incidents like this, Bulford told the inquest.
However, he didn’t offer a clean pair of pants to Silverfox.
Bulford did not test Silverfox’s blood alcohol levels because he had already been cleared medically by the ambulance attendants that had been called to the shelter when Silverfox began to vomit.
He then placed him in cell 3, the drunk tank, with Jack and another man.
There’s someone in there every shift, said Bulford, often more than one.
And it is not uncommon for those people to vomit, defecate or pee themselves.
Later, the jury and coroner watched the 13-hour video from the security camera in Silverfox’s cell.
The video was sped up to save time, and many jurors watched the video with uncomfortable looks of disgust and sadness.
The video was not shown to the public at the request of the Silverfox family.
Craig McLellan was the duty guard when Silverfox was brought into the RCMP station at 5:18 a.m.
McLellan said that Silverfox seemed like an average drunk when he came in.
He was moving slowly, shuffling more than walking and swayed when he tried to stand in one place.
As soon as he was placed in the cell, Silverfox began rolling around on the ground and dry heaving.
Constable Dennis Connelly began his shift at 7 a.m. that morning and released the two men in the cell with Silverfox.
He told the jury that he was unaware Silverfox had been vomiting and didn’t recall Jack telling him that Silverfox needed help.
As the two men left the cell, Connelly told them to be careful where they stepped.
He did notice Silverfox had wet himself.
Connelly returned to the cell at 7:22 a.m. when Silverfox began dry heaving again, and asked if he was alright.
Silverfox didn’t answer, but he was breathing and nothing appeared to be wrong with him other than the dry heaving, said Connelly.
“He’s definitely pissed himself,” Connelly is overheard saying on the video.
“He’s unbuttoned his pants to get it away from himself. The only reason he hasn’t taken them off is that it’s cool in there.”
Connelly checked on Silverfox a second time, at 7:57 a.m.
He had rolled around onto his back, opened his eyes and looked at Connelly, who asked again if he was OK. Silverfox didn’t answer.
“Poopy, poopy, mcpoopy,” Connelly was overheard commenting.
He testified that he didn’t remember saying this.
Connelly didn’t offer Silverfox a change of clothes.
Professional cleaning services clean two of the jail’s 10 cells each day.
They clean whichever cell is the dirtiest.
However, that day it was not suggested the drunk tank be cleaned even though Silverfox had repeatedly vomited, urinated and defecated there.
When Silverfox asked for a mat to sleep on, the police officers made fun of him.
“Yeah, and you need a pizza too,” one constable is recorded as saying, “Is there anything else I can get you?”
Constable Jeffrey Kalles suggested they get him sausages so he has something else to throw up.
People in the drunk tank are not given mattresses or blankets because they may trip over them or soil them
They are also not given anything to eat during the 12 hours they are normally incarcerated and are only given a little toilet paper when they ask for it.
On Friday, the inquest heard from Heather Valfour who was the guard on duty between 7:30 a.m and 3:30 p.m.
According to policy, guards are to do physical checks of inmates at irregular intervals of no more than 15 minutes.
A physical check involves sliding open a metal slot and looking into the cell through a Plexiglass window.
However, Valfour did most of her checks using the video monitor at her desk.
Only six physical checks were done during her eight-hour shift. A little over 30 checks should have been made in that time.
In her logbook, the guard notes Silverfox was dry heaving and later moaning.
It was not a moan of distress, Valfour told the inquest.
“Sounds like he’s calling a moose,” she was recorded as saying that day.
Around 1 p.m. when she noticed Silverfox vomiting on the floor, Valfour went to the cell and told him to use the toilet instead.
“Why don’t you go puke in the toilet instead of the floor. Go puke in the toilet. You’ll have to clean this up.”
Silverfox complied, crawling over to the toilet, vomiting, and then crawling back to his spot on the floor and curling up into the fetal position.
He did this a number of times throughout the day.
At 3:21 p.m. Silverfox got up, leaned against the door and began knocking.
He’d chosen an inopportune time. One minute later, Valfour’s replacement as guard showed up for his shift.
No one went to see what Silverfox wanted.
Procedural changes have already been made since the incident, said Valfour.
If an inmate vomits more than twice, emergency medical services are now called automatically.
If anyone vomits in a cell, they’re moved to another and the vomit is cleaned up.
The ambulance is also called if anyone blows over 350 mg during a blood alcohol test, which happens very often, said Valfour.
If someone is high risk or extremely drunk a second guard is called in to monitor them.
At the end of the day on Tuesday, the court heard a number of recordings made in the cell block that day.
The audio quality was bad, but guards and police could be heard commenting on Silverfox’s predicament, calling it “gross” and “disgusting.”
Laughter could also be heard.
Many in the audience were angered by the tape.
“What’s the use of playing that?” one man yelled.
The inquest will continue until the end of the week.
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