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Training recommended for RCMP in 2012 death

A coroner's inquest into the death of Paul Kayuryuk has resulted in 17 recommendations from the jury.

Jury members listened to testimony from RCMP officers and family members from July 24 to 27.

photo courtesy of Nancy Tookoome
A coroner's inquest into the death of Paul Kayuryuk took place in Baker Lake from July 24 to 27. Nancy Tookoome, who provided this photo, describes Kayuryuk as someone who always made the time to chat and never drank liquor.

The verdict from the jury calls on the RCMP 'V' division to train its officers as well as civilian guards to challenge assumptions regarding intoxication in Inuit communities.

“This includes training to listen carefully and inquire further into information offered by community and family members about persons suspected of intoxication,” a report on the verdict states.

Chief among the jury's recommendations are requests for the RCMP to use the matters raised at the inquest as an educational example when training officers and civilian guards.

Other recommendations include a policy requirement for RCMP officers to physically check each prisoner in cells for responsiveness within a specified time of eight hours, install working video equipment in all cells and keep an official Inuit translator or liaison officer available to communicate with prisoners.

Over the course of the inquest, jury members heard RCMP received an emergency call from someone who discovered Kayuryuk unresponsive at the Baker Lake landfill on Oct. 14, 2012.

Kayuryuk was diabetic but officers thought he had been drinking alcohol, despite being told by the person who found him that Kayuryuk did not drink.

“(Kayuryuk) was taken into custody based on some level of assumption and some evidence that he was intoxicated,” the report states.

He was put in cells, where he was not checked on as frequently as he should have been.

The report notes three separate guards checked on him during his time in cells, “each with an increasing level of concern.”

The following day, Kayuryuk was transferred to the Baker Lake Health Centre for a medical examination, where nursing staff determined he was in the middle of having a serious stroke.

He was then sent by medevac to Winnipeg's Health Sciences Centre in Manitoba, where he died from a complication relating to the stroke.

Karen Kabloona, Kayuryuk's niece, declined a request for an interview but agreed to share posts she had made on social media while the inquest was taking place.

Kabloona attended the inquest and posted to Facebook and Twitter throughout.

“I really wish an inquest was not needed. I wish (Kayuryuk) was still alive. But he's not and I am grateful to be here to hear what happened,” she wrote.

“We've each cried a few tears already. We're here to support each other.”

The inquest jury also delivered recommendations for the territorial government. Those recommendations included running publicity campaigns to promote the use of MedicAlert bracelets by people with health conditions and working with the RCMP to establish a safe place where intoxicated people can spend the night without being put in cells.


Key recommendations from coroner's inquest

  • That the RCMP 'V' division train officers and guards within the year to err on the side of seeking medical attention and check on prisoners frequently with no more than 15 minutes in between checks;
  • Officers and guards will receive training within the year to challenge assumptions about alcohol use and inquire further into information offered by community and family members about persons suspected of intoxication. This could also include cultural sensitivity training;
  • Policy changes for RCMP 'V' division mandating officers to physically check prisoners for responsiveness within eight hours of putting them in a cell, recording physical checks;
  • An Inuit translator or RCMP liaison officer will be available to communicate with prisoners;
  • Video recording equipment for all cells;
  • A collaboration between the territorial government and the RCMP to look at establishing a safe place for intoxicated people to spend the night that does not require them to be put in cells.