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Police watchdog clears Nanaimo officers after impaired driver died in custody

Driver crashed into pole on Bramblewood Lane on Oct. 28 then died of pneumonia

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. says two Nanaimo RCMP officers are cleared of any responsibility after an impaired driver died in police custody last fall.

The IIO released its report on the incident today, May 14.

The driver was located on Bramblewood Lane after he had crashed his vehicle into a utility pole in the early morning hours of Oct. 28. The IIO, a police watchdog organization, says in the report that there was no evidence of any force in improper behaviour in relation to the man’s death.

According to the IIO report, officers made “comments between themselves that they had rarely seen a driver so evidently intoxicated” and say he made an “admission that he had drunk a considerable amount of alcohol that day.” Officers said the man failed approximately 15 times to provide a satisfactory breath sample and he reportedly told them he “had a respiratory thing right now.”

He was arrested for failure to provide breath sample and given a 90-day driving prohibition and 30-day vehicle impoundment. At that point, he was taken to the back seat of a police vehicle.

Officers tried to ask the man if he wished to go to the hospital, home or to the drunk tank, and at that point, an officer said, “let’s call an ambulance, his eyes are going black,” and another officer told dispatch “it looks like he might be seizing.”

One officer attempted chest compressions before paramedics took over. The man was taken to hospital and declared deceased later that morning. An autopsy performed on the man noted cause of death was “bilateral severe pneumonia.”

RELATED: Police watchdog investigating after alleged impaired driver in Nanaimo died

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