NEWS

Jacobus Jonker's death after RCMP pepper spraying under investigation

02/24/2015 04:35 EST | Updated 04/26/2015 05:59 EDT
The B.C. Coroners Service and Independent Investigations Office are investigating the death of Jacobus Jonker, who died while in the custody of the Smithers, B.C. RCMP detachment in February.

The RCMP pepper sprayed Jonker, 53, when arresting him at his home following a complaint on Valentine's Day. A physical struggle ensued between the police and Jonker, who reportedly was uncooperative. 

Jonker later complained of difficulties breathing and was taken to Bulkley Valley General Hospital and then to Victoria General Hospital, but died on Feb. 21, according to the B.C. Coroners Service.

The IIO, which was set up to investigate cases in which people are killed or seriously injured by police officers, will examine whether any offences may have been committed by the police, according to the Coroners Service.

Kellie Kilpatrick, the IIO's Executive Director of Public Accountability​, said it will specifically look at the use of force, to see if there is a less intrusive way to assist officers when taking people into custody, or trying to handle situations.

The IIO report is expected to go to its Chief Civilian Director Richard Rosenthal within a couple of months.

The B.C. Coroners Service may look at the events which led up to Jonkers's death and whether recommendations can be made to prevent fatal outcomes in similar circumstances in the future.

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