Crown lawyers in Saskatchewan are being asked to give the Winnipeg police legal advice on handling the Brian Sinclair hospital death case.
Sinclair, a 45-year-old double amputee, was found dead in his wheelchair at Winnipeg's Health Sciences Centre emergency waiting room on Sept. 21, 2008.
A double amputee with a speech problem, Sinclair died of a preventable bladder infection after waiting for 34 hours.
Winnipeg police launched an investigation in October 2010 to determine if any criminal charges should be laid.
'We've been fighting this for three years now … any little move forward is a good thing.' —Robert Sinclair
On Thursday, the police service said it has concluded its investigation and sent the file to Manitoba Justice for an opinion from a Crown attorney.
Because it is "a unique case with unusual circumstances" a legal opinion is required to determine if charges should be laid or not, police said.
Manitoba has in turn forwarded the file to Saskatchewan Justice for legal advice.
"In the unique circumstances of this case, sending the file to a prosecution service outside of the province will help to further ensure public confidence in the independence of the advice given and decisions made," stated a news release from the Manitoba government.
The prosecution service of Saskatchewan will review the file and provide advice and opinions directly to the Winnipeg Police Service, the release stated.
Family member encouraged
Robert Sinclair, a cousin of Brian Sinclair, told CBC News the latest development is a positive step forward.
"To me, that means that there is reasonable grounds that there could possibly be charges. Otherwise, they wouldn't even have sent it to the Crown attorney's office," Sinclair said Thursday.
"It's encouraging," he added. "We've been fighting this for three years now, you know? And any little move forward is a good thing."
An inquest has also been called into Sinclair's death, but it has been delayed by the criminal investigation.
Robert Sinclair said it is unfortunate that the criminal case, should it proceed, could further delay an inquest.
"I'm not interested in watching people suffer from being charged. I find no comfort in that," he said. "I will find comfort in the truth one day, I hope."
The Sinclair family has filed a lawsuit against several medical staff, the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority and the Manitoba government for $1.6 million.
The statement of claim, filed in September 2010, lists 18 defendants.
That too, has been delayed due to the police investigation.