Dead Yukon man's family files RCMP complaint

The family of Robert Stone, a Yukon First Nation man who recently died at a detoxification centre after spending seven hours in RCMP custody, has filed a complaint against the police force as they demand more answers about his death.
Robert Stone, 34, died on May 2 after spending 15 hours in the hands of the RCMP and health-care officials. ((Family photo))
The family of Robert Stone, a Yukon First Nation man who recently died at a detoxification centre after spending seven hours in RCMP custody, has filed a complaint against the police force as they demand more answers about his death.

Stone, 34, had been in the hands of the RCMP, Whitehorse General Hospital, and the detox centre for 15 hours leading up to his death on May 2.

The case is similar to the 2008 death of Raymond Silverfox, 43, who died after spending 13 hours in Whitehorse RCMP custody. A coroner's inquest, held last month, heard that RCMP officers and guards didn't seek medical attention for him during his time in custody, with some even mocking and jeering him.

Silverfox's family recently filed a legal challenge to the inquest, which concluded that he had died of natural causes. His family has also demanded a full public inquiry into the death.

In Stone's case, he was picked up in the city's downtown the night before, on reports that he was intoxicated. He then spent seven hours in the Whitehorse RCMP detachment cells, according to the Yukon coroner's office.

When Stone reported not feeling well, he was taken to the hospital. then transferred to the detox centre, where he was later found dead, according to the coroner.

Questions unanswered: aunt

Stone was found dead at the Whitehorse detoxification centre, about seven hours after he was transferred there from the hospital and RCMP custody. ((CBC))
This week, Stone's family filed a complaint against the Yukon RCMP. Family members told CBC News they have not been informed about what transpired in the hours before he died.

"We need to have some questions answered," Irma Scarff, Stone's aunt, said in an interview Thursday.

Stone's mother, Monica Stone, said she did not recognize her son's body, which she said had a number of cuts, bruises and other injuries.

"He was really beaten up. His head was crushed in," Monica Stone said in an interview Thursday.

"No, it didn't look like my son."

Scarff added that Stone's nose was "all messed up" and he appeared to have black marks on his head.

"It's like he's got Taser marks all over on top of his scalp … two little black marks together all over his head, on his temples," she said.

No violent incidents recorded: coroner

An autopsy did not shed any light on what caused Stone's death, but Yukon coroner Sharon Hanley said the injuries Stone had were not serious enough to kill him. Tissue and blood samples from his body are being tested.

Hanley said reports that were sent to her office did not mention any violent incidents with any of the officials. As well, she said there was no indication of any use of a stun gun.

Investigators with the Medicine Hat Police Service are investigating the case, since the Yukon RCMP was involved in the hours preceding Stone's death.

In the meantime, Monica Stone said she believes her son's death is one of a number of unexplained deaths involving First Nations people.

"The family has to have a right to know how their kids get killed. They just bury Indians," the elder Stone said.

The inquest into Silverfox's death has prompted the territorial government to review policing in the Yukon.

Stone's death also moved the government to form a task force on how best to help acutely intoxicated persons.