Edmonton

Edmonton police not responsible for woman's in-custody death, ASIRT says

Police have been cleared of any responsibility for the in-custody death of a 55-year-old woman who was arrested at a northeast Edmonton LRT station in August 2017, the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team said Monday.

Deanna Noname suffered a stroke while in a police detention cell

Deanna Noname, 55, died in police custody on Aug. 7, 2017.

Police have been cleared of any responsibility for the in-custody death of a 55-year-old woman who was arrested at a northeast Edmonton LRT station in August 2017, the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team said Monday.

ASIRT released its findings after a lengthy investigation into the circumstances of the arrest and death of the woman, who family members identified as Deanna Noname.

Noname was found unresponsive and in medical distress on the floor of the holding cell the day after she was arrested for public intoxication at the Belvedere LRT station. 

An autopsy conducted by the office of the chief medical examiner identified an acute hemorrhagic stroke as the primary cause of Noname's death, ASIRT said Monday.

Noname had pre-existing medical conditions and had consumed methamphetamine before her death, ASIRT said.

Family members told CBC in August 2017 that Noname used an oxygen tank and did not have it with her at the time of her arrest.

"While there are things that could have been altered in the case, for example, to ensure that an assessment of the woman's need for oxygen was addressed, there is no evidence to suggest that it would have resulted in a different outcome, no matter how tragic that outcome was," ASIRT said in the news release.

"The woman's death was the result of a medical event that could have occurred anywhere, at any time, and there is no evidence to suggest that the care and supervision provided, which would meet the required reasonable standard of care, played any role in her death."

Sue Hughson, executive director of ASIRT, held a news conference Monday to discuss the investigation findings.

Edmonton police officers were called to the Belvedere LRT station on Aug. 6, 2017, to deal with three intoxicated people, one of whom was a 55-year-old woman.

The woman, identified by family members as Noname, was arrested and taken first to the northeast division police station and later to the detainee management unit at downtown police headquarters.

Noname was charged with causing a disturbance, breach of recognizance and was also arrested on additional outstanding warrants for theft and failure to appear, ASIRT said at the time.

She was placed in a holding cell with other prisoners.

During a cell check at about 10 a.m. the next morning Noname was found unresponsive. There were no obvious signs of significant trauma or injury, ASIRT said.

Emergency Medical Services arrived and provided immediate treatment. The woman was taken to hospital in critical condition. She died later that evening. ASIRT was directed to investigate the circumstances of Noname's death and detention.

ASIRT investigates incidents involving police resulting in serious injury or death to any person, as well as serious or sensitive allegations of police misconduct.