Coroner's inquest to be held into 2017 Kelowna police custody death

Coroner's inquest scheduled

The BC Coroners Service will hold a public inquest into the death of a Kelowna man in 2017 who died while in police custody.

Edward James Waddell, 40, was reported as deceased to the BC Coroners Service on April 1, 2017, according to a news release Friday.

B.C. law mandates public inquests for any death that occurs while a person was detained by or in the custody of a peace officer.

The inquest will begin on June 12 at 9:30 a.m. at the Kelowna courthouse.

The announcement Friday does not contain any details about Waddell’s death, but on April 2, 2017 B.C.’s police watchdog the Independent Investigations Office announced they were looking into a police custody death in Kelowna.

The IIO said officers were called on March 31, 2017 at about 5:15 p.m. to a single-vehicle crash involving a tree on McCulloch Road.

Arriving officers opened a criminal investigation and transported the 40-year-old male driver to the Kelowna RCMP detachment. The man was then transported to hospital after complaining of pain.

The man was medically cleared by hospital staff and he was booked into a cell at 11:25 p.m. The following day, on April 1, 2017, at 2:11 p.m. the man was found unresponsive, the IIO said.

Paramedics and RCMP attempted CPR, but the man—who was never named at the time—was pronounced deceased shortly before 2:40 p.m.

The IIO, which investigates all incidents of death or serious injury involving police, would later close the case without a public report.

The coroners inquest taking place in Kelowna next month will aim to:

* to determine the facts related to a death including the identity of the deceased and how, when, where and by what means the individual came to their death, as well as a classification for the death;

* to make recommendations, where appropriate and supported by evidence, to prevent deaths in similar circumstances; and

* to ensure public confidence that the circumstances surrounding the death of an individual will not be overlooked, concealed or ignored.

Coroner Margaret Janzen and a jury will hear evidence from witnesses under oath to determine the facts surrounding this death. The jury will have the opportunity to make recommendations aimed at preventing deaths under similar circumstances.

The jury will not be able to assign blame, legal responsibility or express any conclusion of law in its decision.

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