Stroke victim left in cell for six hours: report

An Indian Brook, N.S., woman who died in custody lay moaning in a jail cell for six hours before officers sought medical help.

Indian Brook, N.S., woman died in hospital after night in Truro police custody

An Indian Brook, N.S., woman who suffered a stroke in police custody and died a week later lay moaning in a jail cell for six hours before officers sought medical help, CBC News has learned.

The Nova Scotia Native Women's Association is calling for an independent review of the Mi'kmaq woman's death in light of the findings.

Truro police arrested Victoria Paul, 44, on Aug. 28, 2009. Police said she was intoxicated and belligerent when she was detained outside a bar in the northern Nova Scotia town.

A Halifax Regional Police review concluded last week said there was no wrongdoing by Truro police, but the 30-page executive summary obtained by CBC News shows Paul was left unconscious in the cell for hours.

The review says it took two or three officers to put handcuffs on the woman when she was arrested. She was then placed in a cell.

Truro police regulations say intoxicated prisoners must be roused every 30 minutes. An unconscious prisoner that cannot be woken up is supposed to be taken straight to hospital.

The Halifax report says surveillance footage in the police station shows Paul falling asleep around 3 a.m. She is seen sitting up briefly at 5:30 a.m., but an hour later she falls off the bench and starts rolling around the floor in discomfort.

Paul left facedown in urine

Over the next six hours, police tried to rouse Paul many times, but she only groaned, grunted or coughed.

At 6:45 a.m. she was on the floor crying and unable to speak. At 8:30 a.m., the duty sergeant was called in to assess her. Paul was facedown in a pool of urine. The sergeant shouted at her and Paul lifted her head but did not speak, according to the report.

The sergeant authorized a call to Emergency Health Services at noon and paramedics arrived at 1:15 p.m.

A 2:10 p.m. report from the Colchester Regional Hospital said Paul was weeping but otherwise unresponsive. Doctors said Paul had suffered a massive stroke. She was taken off life support on Sept. 3, 2009, and died two days later.

Deveron Paul, her son, was detained with his mother. He has said police officers were rough with him and his mother tried to intervene. He said six or seven officers struggled with her.

"She was fighting back a little bit because they were restraining her, but they were being too rough with her because I heard her screaming, 'You're bending my arm too hard,' and stuff like that," he told CBC News last year.

Paul was held in a cell adjacent to his mother and he says he repeatedly asked authorities to call for medical help during the morning.

Truro police have not commented on the case, apart from a news release 10 days ago saying the department followed all policies and procedures.

Cheryl Maloney, president of the Nova Scotia Native Women's Association, said they want to see the full report from the Halifax police and want access to the video of Paul's 10 hours in jail.

"While the executive summary provides us a timeline on what happened to Victoria while she was in custody, we now have even more questions that need to be answered," Maloney said in a news release Monday.

"An independent review is the only way Victoria's family can be sure whether or not the duty and standards of care were met."