Silverfox died of pneumonia and sepsis: pathologist

Raymond Silverfox vomited 26 times while in police custody, mostly on the floor of his cell. Initially the vomit was clear, but later it became dark and red. He also urinated and defecated in his pants.

Raymond Silverfox vomited 26 times while in police custody, mostly on the floor of his cell.

Initially the vomit was clear, but later it became dark and red.

He also urinated and defecated in his pants.

As much as 60 per cent of the cell was covered in this mess, and Silverfox was allowed to lie in it for 13 and a half hours.

In the end, Silverfox died of acute pneumonia and sepsis, according to a forensic pathologist.

Dr. Charles Lee, who performed the autopsy, testified at the inquest into Silverfox’s death on Thursday.

Silverfox, a 43-year-old man from Carmacks, died on December 2, 2008, while in the Whitehorse RCMP drunk tank.

His lungs were found to contain three different types of bacteria commonly found in the human stomach, Lee testified.

This is common when someone throws up and then breathes in the vomit.

Normally, the gag reflex would prevent this.

But this fails to happen sometimes, such as when people are intoxicated.

Silverfox had drunk a bottle of vodka before he began vomiting at the Salvation Army Shelter on the night of December 2, 2008.

He didn’t drink very often, maybe once every two months, but when he did he binged.

Silverfox had been celebrating his 43rd birthday.

No drugs or alcohol were found in his bloodstream during the autopsy.

The pneumonia was very recent, and had been contracted hours before his death, said Lee.

The infection in his lungs spread to his blood, causing acidosis.

This means that his blood became acidic and “incompatible with life,” according to Lee.

Lying in an area that was covered with vomit, feces and urine was probably not the cause.

More likely, it happened while Silverfox was vomiting, Lee said.

If he had received help and antibiotics earlier he might have survived, but there’s no way to be sure.

Constable Shirley Telep was booking a young woman into the cellblock when she first noticed Silverfox.

The guards pointed him out on their video monitor.

She saw a man lying on the floor in a brown pool. His shirt was off and he was trying to use it as a pillow.

Constable Jeffrey Kalles joked with Telep that the man might be a friend or family member of hers from Mayo.

“I’d drag them out and rub their fucking faces in it,” she replied.

While shocking, Telep had seen cells in similar states in the past.

“At no time was I concerned that something was wrong,” she told the inquest.

“I didn’t pay much attention to him.”

In the recording from that day, Telep mentions that maybe he’d got the flu.

“I didn’t know if he had the flu,” she testified.

“I just thought he was drunk.”

Hector MacLellan took over guard duties around 3:30 p.m. that afternoon.

When he first checked on Silverfox he found him sitting up, with his back against the wall.

There was quite a bit of dry yellowish vomit on the floor.

“Did he shit himself too?” MacLellan asked Heather Valfour, the guard whom he was replacing.

She replied, that he hadn’t, but he’d been throwing up all day.

Guards have to clean the cells after they are vacated.

MacLellan joked with Valfour about running away and leaving the mess for him.

MacLellan never saw Silverfox vomit once.

According to footage from the security camera, Silverfox vomited another three times over his three hours under MacLellan’s watch.

After the initial physical check of the cell, no more were done.

MacLellan watched Silverfox from the monitor at his desk, even though it is policy to get up and physically check the people in cells every 15 minutes.

The inquest heard recordings from a number of phone calls, when Silverfox’s girlfriend, Jill Skookum, phoned to find out when he’d be let out.

The woman who received the call contacted MacLellan to find out.

It was another lighthearted conversation filled with giggles and laughter that drew gasps from those listening in the courtroom gallery.

“He’s got quite a mess in his cell. The worst I’ve seen yet. Whatever he’s laying in, I hope he’s comfortable,” said MacLellan.

“He’s still hammed, eh. I don’t know who’s going to release him.”

In the inquest, MacLellan testified that Silverfox appeared to be sobering up and was nearly ready for release.

He doesn’t remember why he said that over the phone, but acknowledged that it was inappropriate.

Guards are not allowed to go into cells or release prisoners.

Around 4 p.m., Silverfox’s 12 hours in the drunk tank were almost up and MacLellan tried to get both Constable Kalles and Constable Geoff Corbett to release him.

Kalles refused because his shift was coming to an end.

“He’s still drunk is he?” Kalles asked.

“I don’t know,” MacLellan replied.

“I tell ya, come 4 o’clock I’m taking my uniform off.”

When Corbett went to the cell Silverfox asked him for a mat.

“No, you can sleep in your own shit,” Corbett told him.

He then went on to joke about how Silverfox would be asking for a pizza next.

At 6:14, a man was brought into the cellblock and began fighting with police officers.

The situation was brought under control around 6:35.

According to the video in the cell, 6:31 was the last time that Silverfox had moved.

At 6:36, both Constable Michael Muller and Corporal Calista MacLeod checked Silverfox and found him facedown on the cell floor.

He wasn’t responding.

MacLellan told them that he was fine. That he’d been moving around and had recently asked for a mat.

At 6:43, Muller entered the cell and found Silverfox completely unresponsive.

After the ambulance was called, MacLellan ran out of the cellblock, he said.

“I felt terrible. He was one of God’s children. I couldn’t stay there. I just took off.”

Muller dragged Silverfox out of the cell because the smell in there was “overpowering,” he testified.

He couldn’t breath and he was starting to gag.

Once in the hallway, Silverfox showed no signs of life. He wasn’t breathing and Muller couldn’t find a pulse.

Muller and MacLeod began CPR.

Emergency medical services arrived four minutes after they were called.

It had been 15 minutes since Silverfox had last moved.

On the way to the hospital, ambulance attendants regained a pulse using a defibrillator.

They arrived at the hospital at 7:11 p.m.

Dr. Sherillynne Himmelsbach attended Silverfox.

He’d been brought in following a cardiac arrest and may have been incontinent, Himmelsbach was told.

However, Silverfox didn’t smell.

She saw no feces and no evidence of vomiting, although his pants had recently been soaked with urine.

Chest X-rays showed no sign of pneumonia.

Efforts were made to contact Silverfox’s daughter and she arrived before he died at 9:13 p.m.

Silverfox’s family and friends staged a protest before the courthouse on Wednesday.

About 60 people circled the building, beating drums and carrying signs that remembered Silverfox as a committed, dedicated, reliable, hard worker.

Many were weeping as an elder said a prayer.

The inquest should be wrapped up this afternoon.

Contact Chris Oke at

chris@yukon-news.com

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