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Manitoba judge calls for defibrillators following death in holding cell

10/18/2012 06:00 EDT | Updated 12/18/2012 05:12 EST
WINNIPEG - A Manitoba judge is calling for defibrillator machines in all police stations and anywhere else police keep people in custody.

Provincial court Judge Robert Heinrichs makes the recommendation following an inquest into the 2007 death of Wilfred Asham at police headquarters in Winnipeg.

Asham was arrested after stealing a truck and crashing it into a chain link fence.

After being taken to a holding room, Asham collapsed and police called an ambulance, but paramedics could not resuscitate him.

An autopsy showed Asham died of probable cardiac arrhythmia.

The inquest report says a defibrillator machine might have prevented the death.

The judge also recommends that all police forces develop a clear policy which sets out circumstances in which someone taken into police custody should first be cleared by a paramedic or emergency room personnel.

"I am not suggesting that if such a policy had been in place that morning, that it would have mandated a medical exam prior to the officers taking (Asham) to the police station," Heinrichs wrote.

"That is for the policy makers, in consultation with medical doctors, to decide. However, a clear policy, with guidelines for officers to follow, is called for."

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