Man dies as police watchdog investigates

A Smithers man who became unconscious shortly after he was arrested by Smithers RCMP on Valentine’s Day died in hospital on Feb. 21.

A 53-year-old Smithers man who became unconscious shortly after he was arrested by Smithers RCMP on Valentine’s Day died in hospital on Feb. 21.

Jacobus Jonker, who was arrested at a Smithers residence at about 10:30 p.m. on Feb. 14, had told police he was having difficulty breathing before he lost consciousness while in custody.

Investigators from the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. were in Smithers last week conducting interviews about the incident.

In a statement released on Monday, the IIOBC said police arrested the man after they were called to a complaint at a local residence.

“According to police, officers located the affected person; he appeared distraught, in emotional distress and did not comply with officers’ commands,” said the IIOBC.

The man was pepper-sprayed to assist with the arrest before reporting he was having difficulty breathing.

Police called emergency health services and, after the man was assessed, he was cleared to be transported to police cells.

“While being booked into cells, the affected person reportedly became unco-operative and a physical struggle took place,” said the IIOBC.

“The affected person lost consciousness.”

Jonker was originally transported to Bulkley Valley General Hospital but was later transferred to Victoria General Hospital for a higher level of care. He died there on Feb. 21.

IIOBC was notified of the incident about an hour after it took place.

Its primary investigator and another investigator were in Smithers last week to conduct interviews with civilians and police and collect information such as paramedic crew reports and radio transmissions.

A family support worker travelled with them.

An IIOBC spokesperson said there would be no forensic investigation because there was no “scene” to examine.

Both IIOBC and the B.C. Coroners Service are investigating his death.

The mandate of the IIO is to investigate whether any offences under the Criminal Code may have been committed by the police officers involved.

The B.C. Coroners Service said its investigation would be broader.

“The Coroner’s investigation may look at the events which led up to the final fatal outcome and whether there are reasonable and practical recommendations that could be made which might prevent future deaths in similar circumstances,” said a statement from the service.

 

Just Posted

Prince Rupert Gas Transmission project searches for partners

TransCanada is renewing permits for its natural gas pipeline project to North Coast.

Coastal GasLink stops work to investigate archaeological find

OGC archaeologists are en route to the Houston-area site where Unist’ot’en report finding stone tools

Province announces $100-million grant funding for Northwest communities

The Northern Capital and Planning Grant will go to four regional districts and 22 municipalities

UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: The framework for reconciliation

Guest View from writers involved in the United Nations declaration.

Lego League provincial champions

Smithers’ Marley and Amelie are B.C. Lego League champions, and are fundraising to compete in Texas.

B.C. students win Great Waters Challenge video contest

Video, mural and song about saving the salmon claims the top prize

Cabinet likely to extend deadline to reconsider Trans Mountain pipeline

The can’t decide the pipeline’s fate until a new round of consultations with Indigenous communities

B.C. government provides $75,000 towards salmon study

Study looks at abundance and health of Pacific salmon in Gulf of Alaska

Murdered and missing honoured at Stolen Sisters Memorial March in B.C.

‘We come together to make change within the systems in our society’

UBC researchers develop inexpensive tool to test drinking water

The tricoder can test for biological contamination in real-time

Disgraced ex-Congressman Anthony Weiner released from prison

He was convicted of having illicit online contact with a 15-year-old North Carolina girl in 2017

B.C. communities push back against climate change damages campaign

Activists copying California case that was tossed out of court

Most Read