Manitoba's chief medical examiner has called inquests into four deaths that occurred in Northern Manitoba between 2009 and 2011.
The inquests were ordered by Dr. Thambirajah Balachandra under the Fatality Inquiries Act and are intended to determine the circumstances of the death and identify steps that can be taken to prevent such deaths in the future.
One of the deaths involves an infant who died of pneumonia at Thompson General Hospital after earlier being taken to a Gods Lake Narrows nursing station three times and never seeing a doctor. Two involve people who died while in police custody. The fourth is into the fatal shooting of a Gods Lake Narrows man by an RCMP officer who was guarding the seen of a fatal fire.
Drianna Ross of Gods Lake Narrows was only two months old when her parents, Erna Hastings and Paul Ross took her to the local nursing station in late November 2011 because she was crying, coughing and having trouble breathing. The first three times they went there, nurses sent them home with Tylenol for the baby. The fourth time, on Nov. 26, they called for a medevac transfer to Thompson General Hospital. By the time the medieval arrived at the destination, Drianna Ross had stopped breathing and had to be revived. She died the next day.
Paul Duck, 52, of Gods Lake Narrows was shot by police guarding the scene of a house fire in that community on March 15, 2011, and was pronounced dead at the community's nursing station. The Saskatoon Police Service was brought in to investigate and announced Feb. 15 of this year that no charges would be laid against the officer who shot Duck.
Forty-four-year-old Brian McPherson of Garden Hill First Nation died in a band-operated holding cell on Aug. 27, 2011 after being lodged there by band constables for being intoxicated in violation of a band bylaw that prohibits alcohol consumption in the community.
The 2009 death of 59-year-old Robert Wood of Nelson House, who died at Winnipeg Health Sciences Centre after being found "unresponsive" in cells at the RCMP Nelson House detachment on Dec. 30 of that year, is also being reviewed. Wood was intoxicated and passed out in the lobby area of a local VLT facility when police were called. Officers contacted the local emergency medical services and Wood was taken to the nursing station. Later that evening, he was arrested for causing a disturbance at the nursing station and lodged in RCMP cells, where he was found, not moving, on the floor a few hours later. He died four days later.
Inquests are mandatory in the case of deaths of persons in police custody or who died as the result of an act or omission of a police officer under Manitoba's Fatality Inquiries Act.