Manitoba

Family demands answers after father of 3 dies in police custody

The family of a father of three who died in Winnipeg police custody Sunday wants to know more about what led to his sudden death.

Fourth Winnipeg police in-custody death so far this year

Randy Cochrane, 30, died while in Winnipeg police custody Sunday. (Submitted by Monica Murdock)

The family of a father of three who died in Winnipeg police custody Sunday wants to know what led to his sudden death.

Randy Cochrane, 30, died after coming into contact with Winnipeg police in the city's North End Sunday.

"My family's devastated. We want to know what happened to him," said Monica Murdock, Cochrane's first cousin.

"Why did he die in cuffs? Why were they chasing him? Why are they saying he was bloody but the doctors we went and saw at the emergency room last night said that he had no injuries."

Police say man was armed and bleeding

Murdock said doctors at the Health Sciences Centre told her family on Sunday that Cochrane had a heart attack and had a high fever. She said they told her there were no other injuries on his body and it was too late by the time he got to the hospital at 4:30 p.m. in an ambulance because he had been without a pulse for a while.

Monica Murdock wants answers from police about her cousin's death and the moments that led up to it. She says doctors told her he had a heart attack and had no visible injuries on his body. (Travis Golby/CBC)

Police did not provide details about the death at a press conference Monday morning but said their officers observed a man who appeared to be armed and bleeding near Flora Avenue and Parr Street Sunday afternoon just before 4 p.m. Officers then started a foot chase and took the man into custody. It's not clear why he was under arrest.

Randy Cochrane is being remembered by his cousin as a fierce protector of his family. (Randy Cochrane/Facebook)

"The individual was agitated at the time of his arrest. The male became unresponsive, he was transported to hospital and subsequently pronounced deceased," Const. Rob Carver said, adding he could give few details about the incident because it's now under review by Manitoba's police watchdog.

Cochrane lived on the Fisher River Cree Nation but often came to Winnipeg to visit relatives in the city, Murdock said. She described her cousin as a fierce protector of his family and said he was more like a brother to her. She last saw him a couple of weeks ago.

"He always made sure we were protected. We were safe. The last time I saw him he came to my house and he gave me some money for my baby 'cause my daughter's in the hospital," she said.

Witness saw man run away from cops

Will Couture lives on Flora Avenue and said he saw a man who looked like Cochrane jump over his backyard fence while shouting for help just before 4 p.m.

Winnipeg police Const. Rob Carver said officers observed a man who appeared to be armed and bleeding near Flora Avenue and Parr Street Sunday just before 4 p.m. He said officers chased the man and then took him into custody. (Travis Golby/CBC)

"At that time I didn't know what he was asking for until I seen the cops running behind him saying more or less, 'Why are you running? What's wrong with you?" he said. 

Couture said the man, who wasn't wearing a shirt, had scrapes on the side of his face and kept saying "help me, help me" as police chased him across the street, where police told him to stop moving.

Randy Cochrane lived on the Fisher River Cree Nation and was a father of three. (Randy Cochrane/Facebook)

He said the man looked freaked out: "Just scared. Just like terrified of something you know what I mean? It was like the devil was chasing him."

Remembered as loving father

Marjorie Cochrane raised Randy after adopting him and said he was always friendly.

"He was really always close to his daughters," she said on the phone from Fisher River. She said her family is devastated about his death and has many questions for police. "It's hard. Taking it hard."

"What happened when they handcuffed him?" she asked. 

A spokesperson for Manitoba's Independent Investigation Unit said this is the fourth in-custody death the Winnipeg Police Service has had so far this year.

There have also been two fatal shootings involving Winnipeg police officers this year that are separate from the in-custody deaths, the IIU said.

Witnesses or other individuals who have information or video footage that could help the investigation are asked to contact the IIU at 1-844-667-6060.

Manitoba's police watchdog is investigating after 30-year-old Randy Cochrane died following an arrest by Winnipeg officers. 2:17

About the Author

​Austin Grabish started reporting when he was young, landing his first byline when he was just 18. He joined CBC in 2016 after freelancing for several outlets. ​​In 2018, he was part of a team of CBC journalists who won the Ron Laidlaw Award for the corporation's extensive digital coverage on asylum seekers crossing into Canada. Email: austin.grabish@cbc.ca