Death in police station cell prompts watchdog to open investigation

·1 min read

The death of a man who had been in police custody in Happy Valley-Goose Bay has prompted a police watchdog to step in and request an external investigation of the incident.

RCMP officers took the man, 35, into custody Thursday evening after responding to what the force would only describe as a "complaint," police said in a statement issued Friday.

He was placed in a cell, police said, and was later found dead.

RCMP notified the Serious Incident Response Team Newfoundland and Labrador (SIRT-NL), the body that investigates serious incidents or fatalities involving police officers, after the death.

In a news release of its own Friday afternoon, SIRT-NL said it has tasked the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary to conduct an independent investigation of the matter, which will be overseen and reviewed by the response team.

The RNC is being brought in because SIRT-NL is still working to build its own team, said the release.

The response team was first announced in 2019 with St. John's defence lawyer Mike King at the helm. King previously said in the spring that COVID-19 has delayed getting his department off the ground.

Both SIRT-NL and the RCMP said they would not comment further on the matter, with SIRT saying it would update the situation once the investigation wrapped.

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