Nova Scotia

No charges to be laid in Victoria Paul's death

The Truro Police Service says no charges will be laid in the case of a woman who died after having a stroke in police cells in 2009 — a decision that has angered people in Indian Brook.

Native Women's Association vows to continue to fight for answers

Victoria Paul died after suffering a massive stroke. (Courtesy Kimber Paul)

The Truro Police Service says no charges will be laid in the case of a woman who died after having a stroke in police cells in 2009 — a decision that has angered people in Indian Brook.

Victoria Paul was arrested for public intoxication outside a bar on Aug. 28, 2009. She was alert and able to stand when she was brought to Truro police cells, but three hours later she was lying in her own urine on the floor of her cell, unable to speak.

Officers didn't call an ambulance until the early afternoon.

Paul died a few days later in hospital, the result of a massive stroke.

David MacNeil says he hopes this review will bring Victoria Paul's family closure. (CBC)

On Thursday, Truro Police Chief David MacNeil said the independent review by the Nova Scotia Public Prosecution Service concluded no charges will be laid.

"We're hoping the family can have this closure they require and that we can move on as a service as well," said MacNeil.

This was the third review to be conducted in connection to Paul’s death, but the only one to examine the question of charges.

Following the first review by Halifax Regional Police, Justice Minister Ross Landry ordered an independent review by the province's Police Complaints Commissioner, which indicated police didn't properly monitor Paul's health while she was in custody.

That report concluded the previous investigation by the Halifax Regional Police — which cleared the Truro Police Service of wrongdoing — was "very narrow in focus."

"We wanted to be open and transparent and make sure all rocks were turned over and there were no questions left at the end of the day," MacNeil said Thursday.

Emotional reaction

In Indian Brook, where Paul lived, some residents are upset.

"To me, the system failed that lady and failed the community," said Erin Michael. "I put my trust in the police officers because my father was a police officer for 30 years and he always told me to trust the system, but the system failed."

Michael said she feels no closure with this announcement.

"Is it because she was aboriginal would be my question. If she was not an aboriginal and it was somebody else, would it be treated differently?"

Immediately after the Truro Police Service announced there would be no charges, the Nova Scotia Native Women's Association released its only statement, saying the group was disappointed but not surprised.

It said there should be an investigation into charges of criminal negligence causing death and failure to provide the necessities of life.

"I don't think if she was a middle class, non-native woman there wouldn't be charges," said Cheryl Maloney, the president of the Nova Scotia Native Women's Association.

But MacNeil said that's just not true.

"I can tell you from experience and from all honesty, the race of that person didn't have anything to do with this case," he said.

"We treat everyone that comes into our custody with respect and dignity and the care and safety of those people are paramount."

Maloney said she'll continue to fight for the release of surveillance video of what happened to Paul that night. She also said the family is considering a civil suit against the Truro Police Service.