Police have absolved any wrongdoing in connection with the December 2022 death of a Cowichan man.
The investigation involves a man who called 911 on Dec. 3 during medical hardship but died after giving police incomplete information about the call.
“Because of the connection between the death and the police action, the Independent Investigative Office (IIO) received Notify and begin an investigation”B.C.
Investigations revealed the man first texted his upstairs neighbors just before 11.30pm on December 3, asking them to call an ambulance because he was not breathing. The neighbor was sleeping at the time and did not receive a text message until the next morning.
About 10 minutes after that text message, the man, still in pain, called 911 himself.
“When the operator answered the phone, [the man] was able, with difficulty, to tell her that he was suffering from shortness of breath,” the report said.
The operator said they would connect the person with another, but the call was hung up. The report could not determine from which end the call ended.
MacDonald’s investigation revealed that the matter was referred to police two minutes after “a pre-recorded message stating ‘We are still experiencing heavy call volume’…” but “did not convey the critical message that the caller was having difficulty breathing and police received The file that came in was a simple ‘911 dropped’, ‘no voice contact’.”
Police were called out at 12:03 am on December 4.
“They were only told that the document involved an abandoned 911 call,” the report said.
By the time North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP officers knocked on the caller’s door at 12:17 a.m., the lights were out and there was no response to their repeated knocks and bell.
At 12.24am, police were informed the man’s mobile phone had “rang” several kilometers away. The man was not at that location and did not answer the phone.
The search was stopped at 1:03 a.m., 1 hour and 25 minutes after the 911 call.
Neighbors who saw the text message went to the man’s suite around 7 a.m. and found him dead.
Paramedics determined he had been “dead for a long time”.
The BC Coroner’s Service classifies the death as “natural”.
Macdonald concluded that the RCMP were not at fault, nor were their responses negligent.
“The officers present performed their duties reasonably and properly. These officers were downstream in the flawed chain of information.”
The only additional step they could have taken was to force their way into the house, but based on the information they had, they instead tried to pinpoint the exact location of the phone, which caused them to leave the home, MacDonald said.
“The whole body of evidence strongly suggests that [the man] He died shortly after receiving the intercepted 911 call, so the failure of police to find and assist him after arriving at his address is unlikely to have changed the unfortunate outcome of this case. “
Cowichan Valley Duncan RCMP