Three Saanich police detectives and a forensic technician are in Penticton conducting an external investigation into the death of a 30-year-old man last week in police cells.
Steven Joseph Scott was arrested Aug. 9 and remanded by a justice of the peace. He was found dead in his cell the following morning.
“When we do an external investigation, we’re focusing on the manner of the death, and any causal factors that may have led to his death,” said Det. Sgt. Chris Horsley, one of the four officers sent to Penticton. “That includes the movements of the deceased prior to coming into contact with the RCMP … In this case we’d want to know what people he’d come into contact with, what he was doing, was there anything that happened prior to him being arrested by RCMP that may have been a causal factor in his death.”
The B.C. Coroners Service was conducting an autopsy Monday afternoon in Penticton.
“We’ll await the outcome of the autopsy to determine if there’s a (conclusive) cause of death, however we will certainly be awaiting toxicology reports from the lab, which can take some time to process,” Horsley said.
Because the death happened while Scott was in police custody, all his movements and interactions since being arrested have been caught on film.
“Our mandate here is to conduct an external investigation to determine if there’s any criminality involved in the manner of death,” Horsley added.
Scott, of no fixed address, was initially arrested as a result of a disturbance call and a refusal to leave a Penticton residence.
An RCMP policy relating to police-involved incidents that result in injury or death requires that an external investigation be conducted by an outside police department.
The cost of external investigations conducted is paid for by the RCMP.
South Okanagan RCMP are under investigation for a number of incidents that occurred recently.
A complaint was lodged in June of an alleged in-custody assault by a Penticton RCMP officer. New Westminster police are investigating the incident that allegedly occurred during an arrest carried out last August. The officer is currently on administrative duties until the investigation is completed.
Delta police are investigating Princeton RCMP after an incident where they attempted to pull over a speeding driver that led to a police chase. The man was later found deceased in his vehicle in an apparent suicide.
A man accused of domestic assault in Osoyoos tried evading RCMP which ended in a deadly fiery crash on Highway 3 in June. That matter is being investigated by the Abbotsford police department. Police were in pursuit of the vehicle, but say they had to cease because of the dangerous manner in which the man was driving. Witnesses said they saw the vehicle drive through a police blockade. The van then went down an embankment and flipped before it burst into flames.
In January an inquest took place into the death of Gordon Amyotte who collapsed while Penticton RCMP officers were walking him to a police vehicle in May 2010.
It was determined by the jury that a lethal dose of methamphetamine before RCMP took the man into custody led to the death.
-With files from Kristi Patton, Black Press