Seizure of clothing questioned in inquest report over death of man in Winnipeg police custody
Scales of justice
The Canadian Press
Published Thursday, February 15, 2018 1:25PM CST
WINNIPEG -- An inquest report is questioning whether Winnipeg police should have taken the clothing of a man who died after being taken into custody for spitting on a liquor store employee.
The report into the death of Christopher Chastellaine says he was arrested after he was caught on camera spitting on the worker in 2014.
Chastellaine was in custody for five hours when officers came into his holding cell and told him they were seizing his clothing as evidence.
Chastellaine got upset and head-butted one of the officers.
The report says six officers helped take the man down onto the floor, handcuffed him and put a hood over his head so he couldn't spit at them. The report said the physical altercation lasted up to 40 seconds.
He became unresponsive and died a few days later in hospital from what a pathologist said was brain damage stemming from a heart attack caused by excited delirium.
Associate Chief Judge Anne Krahn recommends in her report that officers be better trained to consider when clothing needs to be seized and on ways to de-escalate a situation.
While the seizure of clothing may be routine for police, Krahn wrote officers should weigh the investigative need for clothing against the nature of the offence.
"In my view, a photograph would have provided the same evidentiary value in this case and not required taking Mr. Chastellaine's clothes," Krahn wrote in the report.
Krahn also said physical confrontation could have been avoided.
"There is a growing recognition that de-escalation techniques can avoid violent confrontation in some situations," Krahn said. "Backing away and locking Mr. Chastellaine in the room, could have provided everyone with an opportunity to consider different approaches."