The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) is investigating after a 59-year-old man arrested by Ponoka RCMP for being drunk in public went into medical distress and later died in hospital.
ASIRT was directed to investigate the incident on Friday, it said in a news release Monday.
The events unfolded over several days, beginning last Wednesday, when RCMP were called to help EMS with an intoxicated, injured man.
The man at first refused medical attention but was later taken to Red Deer Regional Hospital. He was examined by medical staff who conducted a CT scan and later released him, ASIRT said.
Around 11 p.m. Thursday, RCMP got a disturbance complaint about an intoxicated man in the area of 46th Avenue and 55th Street in Ponoka, 105 kilometres south of Edmonton.
It was the same man from the previous day. He was lying on the ground and had been drinking, ASIRT said.
RCMP took him into custody for being intoxicated in a public place and put him in a cell at the Ponoka detachment.
Just before 6 a.m. Friday, the man fell in his cell, ASIRT said. He was checked and was responsive to staff.
But around 7 a.m., he failed to wake up. Staff provided emergency medical care until EMS arrived and took him again to hospital in Red Deer.
"Upon examination, it is it is believed that the man had, at some point, sustained a significant head injury," ASIRT said. "He was admitted in critical condition. At about 9 p.m., he was pronounced deceased."
ASIRT said its investigation will focus on the police contact with the man, including during his detention in custody.
The RCMP major crimes unit has assumed conduct of the investigation into what may have happened to the man in the days leading to his death, outside of his contact with police.
ASIRT investigates incidents involving Alberta's police that have resulted in serious injury or death to any person, as well as serious or sensitive allegations of police misconduct.