Inquest report into Garden Hill in-custody death calls for safe facility
Calvin Waylon McDougall, 19, was found dead in police holding cell in 2009
CBC News, July 23, 2015
An inquest report into the death of Calvin Waylon McDougall, who was in a police holding cell on the Garden Hill First Nation, calls on the Manitoba government to work with the First Nation to improve supports for people with mental health and substance abuse issues.
The inquest report, released on Thursday, recommends that the province and the First Nation set up a safe detention facility in Garden Hill for people who are intoxicated or dealing with mental health difficulties.
The facility should have clean detention cells and be staffed with people who have specific training, according to the report. As well, the cells should have video and in-person checks.
McDougall, 19, was found dead in his holding cell several hours after he was picked up by band constables in the northern community on May 7, 2009.
According to the inquest report, McDougall was reportedly intoxicated and causing a disturbance when he was apprehended by the constables just after 2:30 a.m. that day. He was detained in a cell in the band’s holding facility until he became sober.
But shortly after 6:30 a.m., he was found unresponsive in his cell. He was pronounced dead at the local nursing station.
It was later determined that he had hanged himself with a piece of fabric that was ripped from a blanket and tied to the cell’s door handle, according to the report.
The inquest report notes that at the time of McDougall’s death, Garden Hill’s policing services were funded by the federal band constable program, which was discontinued earlier this year.
The Manitoba government is stepping in to address the void that’s been created as a result. A bill has been tabled in the legislature to amend the Police Services Act to enable First Nations to set up their own safety officer program, according to the inquest report.
In addition to recommending a safe facility in Garden Hill for people dealing with intoxication and/or mental health issues, the inquest report also calls on the province to work with the First Nation to create a community referral program to connect people with medical assistance and support resources after they are released.