Edmonton

Edmonton police officer should have done more for intoxicated man who died, hearing told

An Edmonton police officer didn't take enough care or due diligence when handling their intoxicated son three years ago, a couple from Sangudo, Alta. told a Law Enforcement Review Board hearing in Edmonton on Friday.

'It's common sense not to do the least you can do, but to go the extra mile,' victim's father argues

Don Szybunka carries this high school graduation photo of his son Klayten Szybunka in his wallet. (Supplied)

An Edmonton police officer didn't take enough care or due diligence when handling their intoxicated son three years ago, a couple told a Law Enforcement Review Board hearing in Edmonton on Friday.

Don and Lena Szybunka's 38-year-old son, Klayten Szybunka, was found dead on June 28, 2014, in a green space near 98th Street and 106th Avenue. 

His body was discovered at 4:15 p.m., about three hours after a police officer dropped him off outside the nearby Hope Mission.

"It's common sense not to do the least you can do, but to go the extra mile," Don Szybunka told the hearing.

"It's called erring on the side of caution," added Lena Szybunka.

They argued the constable who dropped off their son should have escorted him into the Hope Mission rather than leaving him on the curb.

The medical examiner determined that Szybunka died not from alcohol poisoning but of chronic alcoholism, the hearing heard.

There's nothing but gross negligence here, somebody died.- Don Szybunka

The couple represented themselves at the hearing, saying they have already spent $50,000 on lawyer fees to this point.

They are asking the review board for another investigation into the officers' handling of their son, arguing not all available information was collected in initial reviews by the police chief and the EPS Professional Standards Branch, both of which exonerated the officer.

The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team also reviewed the police investigation and found that Cst. Karl Mayer did not contribute to Szybunka's death.

Chronology of events

The hearing on Friday was told Mayer picked up Szybunka in west Edmonton, issuing him a ticket for public intoxication.

Mayer's lawyer, Lorena Harris, read from notes of an interview with the officer which was done following the incident.

She said Mayers' perception was that Szybunka was heavily intoxicated, but not the drunkest he had seen during his six months on the street as a police officer.

When the constable was not able to get a current address from Szybunka, the decision was made to take him to the Hope Mission downtown.

Mayer said in the interview that en route, while driving past the University of Alberta Hospital, he offered to take Szybunka to hospital, but Szybunka declined.

Szybunka's father isn't convinced that happened. He told the hearing the GPS data from Mayer's cruiser should have been collected as part of the investigation to reveal the crusier's actual route.

"I'm appalled by the comments that nothing could be gained from the GPS records," he said.

"There's nothing but gross negligence here, somebody died."

The lawyer for the police chief said another investigation is not likely to uncover anything not already known.

A written decision from the Law Enforcement Review Board is expected in 60 days.