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Police watchdog to investigate second death in five days after Surrey RCMP arrests

The IIO is tasked with determining if the actions of police are linked to the deaths
The Independent Investigations Office of BC (IIO)

A Surrey-based police watchdog has been called to investigate another death. This one happened five days after a man died in Newton after the Surrey RCMP apprehended him under the Mental Health Act.

In this latest case, the Independent Investigations Office of B.C., based out of Whalley, has been notified by the BC RCMP that a man died in a jail cell after he was arrested by the Surrey RCMP.

Staff Sergeant Janelle Shoihet, a senior media relations officer with the BC RCMP, said the police were called to a liquor store in the 7100-block of 138th Street, just after 3 p.m on Canada Day, on a report a man had assaulted two employees.

“Officers arrived, located and arrested the man nearby,” she said. “He was transported to the Surrey RCMP Detachment and held in custody to appear in court the following day.”

READ ALSO: Police watchdog investigating Surrey man’s death

Shoihet said that on July 2, at about 12:57 p.m., he was spotted during a regular prisoner check “sleeping in an awkward position in his cell”

“When the cell sergeant attempted to arouse him, he was found to be unresponsive. Police officers commenced resuscitation efforts and called for BC Emergency Health Services, however he could not be resuscitated and died.”

The IIO is tasked with determining if the actions of police are linked to the death.

“As the matter is now under investigation by the IIO BC, no further information will be released by police,” Shoihet said Monday.

Meantime, the IIO is also looking into what responsibility if any the Surrey RCMP has in the June 28 death of a man after he was apprehended under the MHA.

Dawn Roberts, director in charge of BC RCMP Communications, said Surrey Mounties received calls at about 12:30 a.m. on June 28 about a man “banging on vehicle doors, hiding in bushes, and stating that he was hiding from police and that people should let him into their homes.”

Four police officers found him in a back yard in the 6000 block of 134A Street and called on Emergency Health Services to attend as the man “appeared to be in medical distress,” Roberts said.

The IIO investigates what if any role police might play in cases involving serious injury or death in an effort to keep police accountable. It opened shop in 2012 and operates out of Bing Thom’s Central City Tower in Whalley.

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About the Author: Tom Zytaruk

I write unvarnished opinion columns and unbiased news reports for the Surrey Now-Leader.
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