Yukon Supreme Court quashes Silverfox inquest ruling
Rules coroner's inquest into death in police custody procedurally flawed
A Yukon Supreme Court judge has quashed a coroner’s jury’s verdict that Raymond Silverfox died of natural causes after being found unresponsive in Whitehorse RCMP cells in 2008.
Silverfox, 43, was held in cells at the Whitehorse RCMP detachment for 13 and a half hours. During that time, he was severely ill, vomiting 26 times, while pleading for help.
A coroner's inquest in 2010 heard how RCMP officers and guards not only denied him medical assistance, but mocked Silverfox and laughed at him.
Silverfox was found unresponsive in his cell around 6:45 p.m. that night, and died at hospital shortly after. An autopsy found he died of sepsis and acute pneumonia, likely from breathing vomit into his lungs.
Supreme Court Justice Ron Veale has agreed with the family.
He says Silverfox couldn't seek medical attention on his own and says coroner Sharon Hanley's charge to the jury should have referred to evidence that suggested lack of medical treatment may have contributed to Silverfox's death.
Veale says Hanley should have allowed the jury to see a police video of Silverfox in his cell in real time, and that showing it in fast forward didn't reveal the "true conditions."
Veale also says the coroner's charge to the jury wasn't procedurally fair because Hanley failed to summarize the Silverfox family's position, nor did she properly summarize the evidence.
Veale disagreed with the finding of death by natural causes, saying that a medical explanation for a death doesn't make it "natural."
The family has said it doesn't want another inquest and the judge did not order one, saying all evidence from the case has been made public and changes to RCMP policies have already been implemented.