There will be no prosecution in the in-custody death of a Tuktoyaktuk woman, says the Public Prosecution Service of Canada following a review of a report on the matter.
An announcement was released Sept. 21 shortly after 10 a.m., saying the PPSC concluded there was no chance a conviction would be found in court.
“On July 31, 2021, Ms. Sylvia Panaktalok died while in custody in an RCMP cell in Tuktoyaktuk, NWT,” said PPSC media relations officer Nathalie Houle. “As with all in-custody deaths, an independent investigation was conducted. The investigation report, prepared by Calgary Police Service was referred to the PPSC for review. After carefully reviewing the evidence, the PPSC determined that there was no reasonable prospect of conviction, and that a prosecution will not be initiated, in accordance with the policy contained in the PPSC Deskbook.
“While we have determined that a criminal prosecution will not proceed in this case, this determination does not lessen the tragedy of Ms. Panaktalok’s death, or the loss experienced by her family. We have spoken to her family to explain our decision. We cannot imagine how distraught her family and her community are at this time, and we recognize the additional context of what Inuvialuit communities have experienced in their interactions with the criminal justice system.”
Panaktalok, 54, died in Tuktoyaktuk RCMP custody on July 31, 2021. She had been arrested at 10:30 p.m. and was found dead in her cell after midnight. An autopsy was conducted Aug. 4 of that year, but the results were not publicly released.