The IIO’s investigation into the March 2016 death of Patricia Ann Wilson (inset) in White Rock RCMP cells continues. (File photos)

The IIO’s investigation into the March 2016 death of Patricia Ann Wilson (inset) in White Rock RCMP cells continues. (File photos)

Still no answers for family of woman who died in White Rock police cells 5 years ago

‘Unique’ case is watchdog agency’s longest-ever investigation: chief civilian director

The family of a woman who died while in the custody of White Rock RCMP five years ago say they are still waiting for answers, including whether changes to prevent it from happening again will be recommended.

“I don’t think the IIO has forgotten about us in any means,” the woman’s daughter, Ely Wilson, said Wednesday (May 19), noting she has had regular contact with Independent Investigation Office officials over the years. “I think there’s some bureaucracy going on behind the scenes that’s slowly been impacting the investigation.”

The IIO began looking into the death of Patricia Anne Wilson after she was found unresponsive on the morning of March 29, 2016, four days after her arrest and less than four hours after she had been assessed by paramedics.

READ MORE: White Rock woman who died in police custody ‘a kind soul’

Ely Wilson said that she and her siblings know from a coroner’s report that their mom died from blood poisoning, and that the 58-year-old had asked for medical help “several times” prior to being found unresponsive.

They don’t know if the septicemia was linked to drug withdrawal, or why she wasn’t taken to hospital, but they believe a lack of training may have played a role in her death.

“Because she was an active drug user, her body went into withdrawals, and although she requested to receive medical service several times, she wasn’t taken to the hospital,” Wilson said.

“And so it’s our feeling that the people who were working at the jail didn’t have adequate training or an adequate ability to understand the fact that drug withdrawals can be deadly to people, and that they didn’t listen to her when she requested help.”

IIO Chief Civilian Director Ron MacDonald said Wednesday that the case is the agency’s longest investigation to date, and that it remains to be seen whether or not the matter will be referred for charges. There are times when investigations lead to “some commentary” suggesting opportunities for improvement or change, he said.

As example, MacDonald cited a 2019 case in which an individual died in Kamloops cells. That investigation cleared the Mounties of any wrongdoing, however, “I, at that point, publicly stated the use of sobering centres is something that ought to be looked at more – (that) it’s probably better not to hold intoxicated persons, whether it be by alcohol or drugs, in police cells, but other facilities where there might be medical attention more readily available may be a more appropriate way to handle those types of situations,” MacDonald said.

READ MORE: Kamloops RCMP cleared of wrong-doing in custody death

“In (the White Rock) case… it may well be a circumstance where we will go forward with some comment.”

Describing the case as “very unique in nature,” MacDonald said it “has involved and is involved with an extensive review of a number of things, including not only the facts of this case, but RCMP policy and practices surrounding these types of cases.”

READ MORE: ‘Complex issue’ holding up IIO investigation into 2016 White Rock in-custody death

Obtaining the materials necessary for that review from RCMP required “discussion with the commissioner on this matter to help,” he continued.

“That took some time,” he said. “Our request was different than normal, and I don’t want to get into the details of that. But to be fair to them, it wasn’t a usual request. We had a conversation about it and they were co-operative thereafter, it just took them a long time to gather the information that we were looking for. And now it’s taking us a long time to go through it.”

Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls, who took over the helm of the White Rock detachment in late 2019, said he could not comment on the IIO investigation “until they release their report.”

MacDonald said he is hopeful the investigation could conclude later this year. He noted the IIO’s increased case load – it doubled this past fiscal year to 232 compared to two years ago – has limited the resources that can be devoted to it. As well, the pandemic “has made us a little less efficient.”

Wilson said her mom was a “super outgoing… super social” person who struggled with addiction through her adult life, but particularly after the death of her own mother. She “tried really hard” to overcome it, and had periods of sobriety that stretched as long as five years.

Noting her mom isn’t the first intoxicated person to succumb in police cells, Wilson said her family’s focus is on ensuring others are spared a similar experience.

“People have died before because of it. We just want to make sure this doesn’t happen to someone else.”



tholmes@peacearchnews.com
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

DeathRCMPwhite rock

Just Posted

Grant De Patie. (The News files)
Virtual sit-in in memory of Maple Ridge gas attendant killed in 2005

Protest for stronger safety protections for late-night workers

Have an opinion you’d like to share? Submit letters to the editor through our website, via email or the postal service. (Heather Colpitts/Black Press Media)
LETTER: Pitt Meadows does not need new RCMP detachment

Local resident says the price tag is too much

Maple Ridge author Tiffany-Ann Bottcher is one of 21 authors whose real-life stories are featured in the new book Women in Business in a Changing World. (Special to The News)
Maple Ridge author shares real-life story to inspire women in business

Tiffany-Ann Bottcher, is a long-time Maple Ridge resident, a full-time business coach and blogger

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. There’s new evidence the Vancouver police were warned about a possible riot days before violence broke out during the final game of the Stanley Cup playoffs on June 15. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
Maple Ridge residents share Vancouver Stanley Cup Riot memories

June 15th was 10th anniversary of Canucks Game 7 loss

Maple Ridge's Ron Paley aimed the camera skyward, to the clouds earlier this week, while out for one of his regular bike rides through Pitt Meadows and Mape Ridge. This time, he shared some images he caught while biking to Pitt River Bridge, then north up to the dikes and back around to Laity Street. "Awesome weather for biking… and the cloud formations were unique." (Special to The News)
SHARE: Cyclist stops to admire the clouds

Send us your photo showing how you view Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, and it could be featured soon

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

UFV athletes were honoured for their strength and perseverance during the pandemic. (UFV photo)
Fraser Valley athletes recognized in year without sports

UFV Cascades athletes honoured for strength shown during the pandemic

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Trutch Avenue in Chilliwack to be renamed to remove racist taint

New name to have Indigenous significance as Chilliwack takes new step toward reconciliation

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

Most Read