‘They don’t really tell us anything’: Family has questions after 3rd Indigenous man dies in RCMP care

First there was Clayton Willey, then Dale Culver and now Everett Patrick. Three men with no connections other than the fact they died while in the custody of the RCMP in Prince George, B.C.

Patrick, 42, a member of the Lake Babine Nation in B.C. was hospitalized on Apr. 12 after being arrested by the RCMP.

Now his family is looking for answers to what caused his critical injuries while in custody which lead to his hospitalization and later death.

“We asked them to look around to other businesses for cameras, and they said they are requesting it, but we don’t’ know,” said Patrick’s sister Miranda Thomas.

“They don’t really tell us anything. “

The Independent Investigation office of B.C. (IIO), a civilian led police oversight agency, has opened an investigation into Patrick’s death.

According to the agency, “… at approximately 4:30 a.m., officers responded to an alarm from a sporting goods store in the 1400 block of 3rd Avenue which is known to sell firearms and ammunition,” said the initial release by the IIO which is based on the RCMP’s account.

“When police arrived, the affected person, a male, attempted to flee; following several hours of negotiations, the male was eventually taken into custody.”

Police said he was then taken to the hospital and released – but the statement from the IIO doesn’t say anything about the extent of his injuries.

“Hours later, while in custody, the male went into medical distress and was transported to hospital where he was found to be suffering from serious injury,” said the IIO statement.

APTN News contacted the RCMP in Prince George but was told that no statement would be provided.

The IIO director said people need to be patient while the investigation runs its course.

“Let’s wait until we have all the evidence before we can draw any conclusions one way or the other,” said Ron MacDonald. “We go into every case without any assumptions and we just want to find out what happened. That is standard procedure for us.”

Patrick was taken off life support and died April 20.

Because of restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, only his sister was allowed to visit in person.

The family said goodbye online.

“Everett was always there, and it was hard letting him go. At least he didn’t die alone, and I got to hold him,” said Thomas. “People said he was brain dead and that he wouldn’t understand, but he understood that in his last moments, he was crying.”

RCMP Detachment in Prince George 

This is the third investigation of the RCMP Prince George detachment since 2003.

That’s when Clayton Willey died after being arrested behind a shopping mall. Detachment video, that was withheld from the public for nearly a decade, shows Willey being hog tied, dragged along the hallways in the detachment, banged against the elevator, and eventually Tasered by two officers. He died hours later in hospital.

Read More: Clayton Willey 

Willey’s family still believes the RCMP is responsible for his death despite a coroner’s report that said Willey died of heart failure due to cocaine overdose.

An independent investigation found the RCMP broke several of their own procedures including failing to adequately investigate Willey’s death.

Dale Culver, 35, was the next to die in RCMP Prince George custody in 2017. His arrest was captured on video from bystanders. The grainy video shot at night shows several members of the RCMP holding the father of three down on the sidewalk. He died in hospital.

The B.C. Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) questioned whether Culver’s race played a role in why he was arrested.

Four charges were recommended against officers by IIO investigators in 2918 – two for the use of force and two others after the BCCLA reported that police asked bystanders to delete the videos they shot of the arrest.

The Crown has yet to act on those recommendations.

The IIO is now appealing to the public for help in the case of Everett Patrick.

In a statement released Apr. 23, the agency is looking for any information that may help them piece together Patrick’s final moments.

Patrick’s family continues to wait for answers.

Video Journalist / Kitimat Village, B.C.

Lee is a video journalist with APTN News, who shoots, reports and edits stories out of northern British Columbia. As a member of the Haisla Nation, Lee is proud to call Kitimat Village home again after living on Vancouver Island for 18 years. He has a passion for storytelling and looks forward to sharing stories through the lens of First Nations people.


1 thought on “‘They don’t really tell us anything’: Family has questions after 3rd Indigenous man dies in RCMP care

  1. Please share widely. This is simply too common a scenario in Canada and time and again gets little coverage, next to no investigation and just fades until lo, it happens again, and again. Please. Share.

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