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Police watchdog clears RCMP in 2020 sudden death of Port Alberni woman

Woman died following a wellness check; no connection made between death and RCMP visit
The Independent Investigations Office of BC (IIO)

The Independent Investigations Office (IIO) of BC has cleared the RCMP of any wrongdoing in the 2020 death of a Port Alberni woman following a wellness check.

The decision stems from an incident on April 20, 2020, when RCMP responded to a call requesting a wellness check on a woman at her home. Shortly after officers left, she was found unresponsive on the floor and was declared deceased.

Neither the woman’s name nor address were provided to media.

READ MORE: Police watchdog investigating death of woman in Port Alberni

According to the IIO report, the woman’s neighbours called 911 after she came to their door “in a panicked and paranoid state” just before 6 p.m. The woman told both witnesses that she thought her boyfriend and children had been murdered and claimed that she had been stabbed, although witnesses saw no sign of an injury.

Three RCMP officers attended the woman’s home and “quickly determined” that the children were not missing or murdered but were with the woman’s boyfriend, the report states.

The woman told officers that although she had a history of taking drugs, she had only had “a few drinks” and her prescription medication (quetiapine) that day. She told police she was tired and did not need a doctor or an ambulance—she only wanted some water and to go to sleep.

Officers initially called Emergency Health Services (EHS) to attend and assess her, but later cancelled the call because she had refused to see paramedics and presented as “calm, cooperative and coherent.” The officers left the scene shortly before 7 p.m.

Just after 7 p.m., she was found unresponsive at home by her boyfriend and EHS was called again. Despite resuscitation attempts, she was pronounced dead at the scene.

The autopsy report indicated the cause of death as “cocaine and quetiapine toxicity.”

The IIO report, which was written by Chief Civilian Director Ronald J. MacDonald, concluded that the primary reason for police attendance at the woman’s home was a concern that her children might be missing or in danger. They had no grounds to arrest her, because she had committed no offence, and she did not meet the requirements for apprehension under the Mental Health Act because she was not acting in a manner that was dangerous to herself or others.

“The officers were then left with a rather intoxicated individual who had somewhat calmed down and who was refusing any further assistance,” said MacDonald.

The decision to cancel EHS attendance “seems reasonable” in this case, he added.

The report concludes that there are no reasonable grounds to believe that an officer committed an offence and the matter will not be referred to Crown counsel for consideration of charges.

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Elena Rardon

About the Author: Elena Rardon

I have worked with the Alberni Valley News since 2016.
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