The RCMP has called in the province’s police watchdog after a man went into medical distress and died shortly after he was arrested for shoplifting in Richmond Thursday night.
BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) confirmed to the Richmond News that paramedics were dispatched to the Canadian Tire in Ironwood around 7:40 p.m., where they cared for one patient suffering from cardiac arrest before transporting that person to hospital in serious condition.
According to RCMP, Mounties were called to the business on Steveston Highway and No. 5 Road around 7:30 p.m. Thursday to “assist a Loss Prevention Officer who was struggling with a shoplifting suspect.”
“Frontline officers arrived on scene to assist and to arrest the man,” said the RCMP. “Shortly thereafter, the members determined that man was in medical distress, unresponsive, and started first aid measures.”
The Independent Investigations Office (IIO) says the man was handcuffed by police after they arrived at the scene.
Officers began performing CPR and called BCEHS, who then provided further medical assistance for approximately 45 minutes before taking the man to hospital, according to the IIO.
The man was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at the hospital, according to the police watchdog, which will now investigate to determine if the officers’ actions or inactions are linked to the man's death.
The BC Coroners Service has also been called in, and will “investigate to determine how, where, when and by what means (the man) came to his death,” according to the IIO, while RCMP is investigating the circumstances surrounding the man's death.
The RCMP says no further information will be released as the matter is now under investigation by the IIO.
Anyone who saw, heard or recorded the incident is asked to contact the IIO Witness Line toll free at 1-855-446-8477.
The IIO is the independent civilian oversight agency of police in British Columbia. It investigates all officer-related incidents that result in serious harm or death.