UPDATE: Police watchdog investigates Smithers arrest

A man who became unconscious after he was taken into custody by Smithers RCMP had been pepper-sprayed during the arrest.

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. was in Smithers yesterday to look into why a man became unconscious during an RCMP arrest last week.

At about 10.30 p.m. on Feb. 14 police were called to a residence in Smithers, where they found the affected adult male in emotional distress.

According to IIOBC, RCMP officers pepper-sprayed the man when he resisted arrest before taking him into custody.

Almost immediately after his arrest the man became unconscious and emergency health services were called.

The man was transported to hospital, where he remains.

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

Its primary investigator and another investigator were in Smithers yesterday 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.

“We have to determine two things,” said IIOC spokesperson Kellie Kilpatrick.

“One is if we have an incident of death or serious harm, which we do, and the other is we have to establish whether there is a nexus, or a relationship, between what happened to the man and an officer’s actions .. we’re still determining that.”

The IIOBC will either release jurisdiction over the case if it deems the injury is not related to officer conduct, or continue its investigations.

Kilpatrick said IIOBC would make that decision before the end of next week.

She said there would be no forensic investigation because there was no “scene” to examine.

IIOBC would not disclose the man’s condition, age, place of residence or the hospital where he is being treated.