Inquest set to begin into 2012 death of man in RCMP cells

A public inquest will be held in March into the death of Jeremy David Richardson, who died after a stay in North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP cells in 2012.

The BC Coroners Service announced the inquest into the 37-year-old man’s death Monday, though an external police review by the Oak Bay Police Department found in February of last year that North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP were not at fault.

Coroner Barbara McLintock said it is common for there to be a civilian inquiry into a death involving someone in police custody, along with an external police review.

The reason the inquest has taken so long to be called is because the Coroners Service was waiting for the investigation by the Oak Bay Police Department to be completed.

Richardson died April 22, 2012 at Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria. He was transported there after he went into medical distress in North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP cells the previous day.

He was being held there until he sobered up, police said, after he was detained following complaints the he was intoxicated in downtown Duncan.

“Prior to police arrival, [Richardson] had walked away from the original location after declining assistance from the British Columbia Ambulance Service,” said RCMP Island District spokesman Cpl. Darren Lagan at the time.

Lagan went on to say that Richardson “was cooperative with police throughout his arrest and time in custody.”

But things took a turn for the worse when an onduty guard found the man in medical distress. An autopsy found Richardson died of severe respiratory failure caused by methadone and acute alcohol intoxication.

There was no evidence of use of excessive force at any time Richardson was in custody, the review found.

Presiding coroner Matthew Brown and a jury will hear evidence from subpoenaed witnesses to determine the facts surrounding Richardson’s death at the inquiry starting March 3. The jury will not be determining legal responsibility. They can make recommendations aimed at preventing any future deaths under similar circumstances.