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Prosecution service not pursuing charges over NWT in-custody death

The RCMP detachment in Tuktoyaktuk
The RCMP detachment in Tuktoyaktuk. Meaghan Brackenbury/Cabin Radio

The Public Prosecution Service of Canada says it is not pursuing criminal charges related to the 2021 death of a woman at Tuktoyaktuk’s RCMP detachment.

The Calgary Police Service said in August 2021 its homicide unit was investigating after a 54-year-old woman died in a police cell in the community.

Calgary police said the woman had been taken into custody in Tuktoyaktuk at around 10:30pm on July 31, 2021, related to an instance of public intoxication. Police said the woman passed away just after midnight the following morning.

The prosecution service told Cabin Radio last month it had completed its review into the police investigation, but did not provide further details at the time.

In a news release on Thursday, the prosecution service announced it would not be pursuing criminal charges as it had “determined there was no reasonable prospect of conviction.”



Thursday’s news release did not provide any information about the outcome of the review, if charges had been recommended in that review, or the cause of death.

The Calgary Police Service subsequently shared a statement with Cabin Radio saying the woman’s death had been “deemed to be non-criminal.”

“We express our condolences to the family and loved ones of the woman,” the police service said in a statement.

The prosecution service said its decision “does not lessen the tragedy” of the woman’s death or her family’s loss.

“We have spoken to her family to explain our decision. We cannot imagine how distraught her family and her community are at this time, and we recognize the additional context of what Inuvialuit communities have experienced in their interactions with the criminal justice system,” the prosecution service said in a statement.