Silverfox inquest under review

Raymond Silverfox's family is taking his case to the Yukon Supreme Court in September.

Raymond Silverfox’s family is taking his case to the Yukon Supreme Court in September.

The 43-year-old Carmacks man died in police custody on December 2, 2008, after spending more than 13 hours in the Whitehorse drunk tank.

During those long hours, Silverfox wet himself, defecated in his pants and vomited 26 times.

Roughly 60 per cent of the cell was covered in the mess, and when Silverfox asked for a mat to sleep on, he was told, “No, you can sleep in your own shit.”

Silverfox spent most of the time on the floor, sometimes moaning, curled up in the fetal position.

Emergency medical services weren’t called until Silverfox’s heart stopped beating and he was found unresponsive. He was pronounced dead two hours later, having died from an acute infection that he likely contracted by inhaling his own vomit.

After his death, the Whitehorse RCMP was investigated by RCMP from Prince George’s E Division.

And this is not acceptable, said Silverfox family lawyer Andre Roothman.

“There is a huge criticism about this current system of the RCMP investigating the RCMP,” he said.

“But when there is a death in RCMP custody, one would think you should at least go outside (the force).”

After a death in police custody, it’s up to the coroner to appoint a peace officer to investigate.

In this case, officers from E Division were called in.

“But the way it all played out, it was basically the tail wagging the dog,” said Roothman.

The investigation also failed to show video footage of Silverfox in custody to the pathologist, prior to the pathologist doing his report, said Roothman. “And this is a pathologist who is acting on a regular basis for the RCMP”- the same pathologist, Charles Lee, who was subject to criticism during the Taser death of Robert Dziekanski at the Vancouver airport, he said.

But it’s not just the investigation that worries the Silverfox family, there were also issues with the coroner’s inquest, said Roothman.

“Some reports that relate to the investigation weren’t entered as exhibits.”

And the full video footage of Silverfox’s time in custody was not played for the jury, a section was fast-forwarded, he said.

Roothman is challenging the investigation and the coroner’s inquest.

Both should be subject to a judicial review, he said.

In September, it will be decided whether the investigation is also subject to the review.

“It can be quite awhile before we get to an actual judicial review,” he said.

The Crown has indicated it’s still looking into possible criminal proceedings against the RCMP, added Roothman.

“So far there hasn’t been a decision.”

But its been almost two years since Silverfox died – the RCMP report was done long ago – and nobody was prosecuted, he said.

“And if the Crown is not going to do anything, Silverfox’s family has instructed us to look into a private prosecution.”

Contact Genesee Keevil at

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Chloe Tatsumi dismounts the balance beam to cap her routine during the Yukon Championships at the Polarettes Gymnastics Club on May 1. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Gymnasts vie in 2021 Yukon Championships

In a year without competition because of COVID-19, the Polarettes Gymnastics Club hosted its Yukon Championships.

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Yukon Budget 2.0

If the banks that finance the Yukon’s growing debt were the only… Continue reading

Yukon Supreme Court Chief Justice Suzanne Duncan dismissed an application on May 3 seeking more transparity on the territory’s state of emergency declaration. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Supreme Court rules confidential memo can’t be used in challenge of state of emergency

Court upholds cabinet confidentiality after request to use internal government memo as evidence.


Wyatt’s World for May 7, 2021.… Continue reading

The deceased man, found in Lake LaBerge in 2016, had on three layers of clothing, Dakato work boots, and had a sheathed knife on his belt. Photo courtesy Yukon RCMP
RCMP, Coroner’s Office seek public assistance in identifying a deceased man

The Yukon RCMP Historical Case Unit and the Yukon Coroner’s Office are looking for public help to identify a man who was found dead in Lake LaBerge in May 2016.

Yukon Zinc’s Wolverine minesite has created a mess left to taxpayers to clean up, Lewis Rifkind argues. This file shot shows the mine in 2009. (John Thompson/Yukon News file)
Editorial: The cost of the Wolverine minesite

Lewis Rifkind Special to the News The price of a decent wolverine… Continue reading

Letters to the editor.
Today’s mailbox: border opening and Yukon Party texts

Dear Premier Sandy Silver and Dr Hanley, Once again I’m disheartened and… Continue reading

Fire chief Jason Everett (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City launches emergency alert system

The city is calling on residents and visitors to register for Whitehorse Alert

Two young orienteers reach their first checkpoint near Shipyards Park during a Yukon Orienteering Association sprint race May 5. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Orienteers were back in action for the season’s first race

The Yukon Orienteering Association began its 2021 season with a sprint race beginning at Shipyards.

Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)
City news, briefly

A look at issues discussed by Whitehorse city council at its May 3 meeting and the upcoming 20-minute makeover.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland met with MP Larry Bagnell and representatives from the Tourism Industry Association via Zoom on May 4. (Facebook)
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland met with MP Larry Bagnell and representatives from the Tourism Industry Association via Zoom on May 4. (Facebook)
Deputy Prime Minister talks tourism in “virtual visit” to the Yukon

Tourism operators discussed the budget with Freeland

Polarity Brewing is giving people extra incentive to get their COVID vaccine by offering a ‘free beer’ within 24 hours of their first shot. John Tonin/Yukon News
Polarity Brewing giving out ‘free’ beer with first COVID vaccination

Within 24 hours of receiving your first COVID-19 vaccine, Polarity Brewing will give you a beer.

Most Read