REGINA — A lawyer representing the family of a Regina woman who died after plunging 10 storeys down a hotel laundry chute says the investigation into her death was botched and race played a factor.
“What the police did was horrible," Tony Merchant told CTV News on Friday. "If that had been a white woman working at SaskPower, they would have been all over the investigation."
Merchant is representing the family of Nadine Machiskinic, 29, in a civil lawsuit against the Delta Hotel.
A coroner’s jury of three men and three women ruled Thursday it could not determine the cause of Machiskinic's death. They made just one recommendation — that laundry chutes in hotels should always be kept locked and only ever be accessible to staff.
Regina’s police chief Evan Bray admitted Friday that mistakes were made in the investigation, but said he’s confident in the police force’s findings.
Bray said from the start of the investigation, police faced challenges because paramedics didn't believe police needed to be involved.
He said other hurdles included lost evidence and delayed toxicology reports. Investigators were also unable to locate two men captured on hotel surveillance video who were considered people of interest.
But Bray doesn't believe the investigators in the case were biased, and said the public should have confidence in the Regina Police Service.
"There are some things that we absolutely need to tighten up so that it doesn't happen again," Bray said. "But I don't believe it changes the outcome, which in this case, our investigation led us to believe that there was nobody else responsible for Nadine's death. We believed that death to be accidental."
The inquest heard blood tests showed Machiskinic had alcohol and a mix of methadone and three other drugs in her system, as well as high levels of sleeping medication.
An empty bottle of prescription sleeping pills was found along with her body.
Toxicology expert Chris Keddy testified that because Machiskinic was a long-time drug user and had a high tolerance, she would have still been mobile and capable of climbing into the laundry chute on her own.
However, Machiskinic’s family has questioned how she fit through the opening of the laundry chute, which was only 53 centimetres wide, and why it took police 60 hours to launch an investigation.
Merchant said if the victim had been white, police "would have concluded it was probably a murder. They would have known who the two men were. They would have got the tapes. They would have been talking to the staff. This was an Indian woman — reluctantly, we’re going to look into it, and the result is no result.”
The Canadian Press