ALBERTA

ASIRT investigation rules RCMP acted reasonably in handling man who died

10/16/2014 05:30 EDT | Updated 12/16/2014 05:59 EST
LEDUC, Alta. - An investigation into a man's death after a violent struggle with RCMP south of Edmonton has determined officers acted properly in trying to subdue him.

The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team says Marc Andre Fontaine of Leduc was a considerable risk to the public, to police and to himself.

Acting executive director Susan Hughson says it was a reasonable use of force to use a Taser on Fontaine twice and to hold him around the neck because several tries to calm him had failed.

The medical examiner's office determined Fontaine died of excited delirium syndrome as a result of cocaine toxicity.

The medical examiner found the Taser and the control hold played no identifiable role in Fontaine's death in August 2013.

Fontaine, who was 27, had stolen two vehicles, crashed through a barrier, assaulted two people and caused disturbances at two convenience stores.

ASIRT says Fontaine had been seen in public around suppertime "exhibiting bizarre behaviour" and appeared to be extremely pale with purple lips.

The agency says he was acting strangely at home around 9:30 p.m. and was described as foaming at the mouth, gritting his teeth and growling. Witnesses described Fontaine as assaulting his roommate and then fleeing.

He broke through a door into a neighbouring residence while the owner slept and stole a vehicle. He then proceeded to go to two convenience stores.

"Mr. Fontaine's behaviour at one convenience store was described as a 'rampage' which included the assault of an employee," said an ASIRT release issued Thursday. "Mr. Fontaine fled the second convenience store in the stolen vehicle and was described by witnesses to be driving at excessive speeds, proceeding through red lights and driving on the wrong side of the road."

Fontaine drove to a gas station in Leduc where he crashed through a steel barricade and jumped into a stranger's vehicle parked at the gas pumps. It was there that police found him.

ASIRT said Fontaine punched an officer and could not be removed from the vehicle. Two other officers arrived, but no one could get Fontaine out.

He was eventually removed after being shocked with a Taser. He continued to struggle, displaying "exceptional strength" and three officers and two civilians could not control him, ASIRT said.

Fontaine went into cardiac arrest a few minutes after an officer used a control hold on him.

Fontaine died in hospital the next day.

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