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Woman arrested Feb. 1 for intoxication dies in Thompson RCMP cells

A 44-year-old woman died Feb. 1 while being held at the Thompson RCMP detachment. RCMP officers responding to a call about an intoxicated person arrested the woman on Saturday and took her back to the detachment after she was medically cleared.
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A 44-year-old woman died Feb. 1 while being held at the Thompson RCMP detachment.

RCMP officers responding to a call about an intoxicated person arrested the woman on Saturday and took her back to the detachment after she was medically cleared. She was lodged in the detachment cells around 8:15 p.m. and was conscious and breathing when checked upon at 10:49 p.m. Less than 20 minutes later, at 11:08 p.m., she was found unresponsive and paramedics were called. They pronounced her dead at the scene.

Thompson RCMP notified the Independent Investigation Unit of Manitoba (IIU), which investigates all serious incidents in the province involving on- and off-duty police officers, of the death on Feb. 2. Because the woman died, the IIU will request the Manitoba Police Commission to provide a civilian monitor for the investigation.

The last time a prisoner lodged in Thompson RCMP detachment cells died was July 19, 2008, when 37-year-ld Jeffrey Ray Mallett was found dead on the floor in the corner of the cell near the door when the prisoners were being moved out for meals. The cause of his death was determined to be pneumonia following an autopsy conducted July 21, 2008 by Dr. Thambirajah Balachandra, then the chief medical examiner of Manitoba, who said he believed Mallett had probably been dead for six to 10 hours before his death was discovered when an RCMP officer entered the Intoxicated Persons Detention Act cell shortly after noon on July 19, 2008 to move Mallett to a holding cell, because he was going to be charged for breaching an undertaking not to consume alcohol. The officer attempted to awake Mallett and discovered that he was dead.

In her report on an inquest into Mallett’s death held in 2012, 2013 and 2014, provincial court Judge Doreen Redhead recommended that Thompson establish a detoxification centre similar to the Main Street Project in Winnipeg to provide rehabilitative services and program to people with substance abuse problems. She also recommended that medical assessment be done before a person is lodged in RCMP cells under the Intoxicated Persons Detention Act IPDA to ensure they do not have any pre-existing medical conditions.

By the time of the inquest, changes had already been made to procedures for monitoring prisoners lodged in Thompson RCMP cells since the time of Mallett’s death.