Sahpassum Inquest Concludes With Recommendations

Wednesday, November 09, 2005 at 15:04



Jurors at an inquest into the death of a Prince Albert woman have wrapped up their deliberations.


For a little over two days, the members heard details about the circumstances surrounding the death of 48-year-old Linda Sahpassum.


The Aboriginal woman fell and struck her head while in the custody of two Prince Albert police officers last summer.


Just before her death, she was discharged from the Victoria Hospital because some staff thought she was drunk.


In fact, medical evidence showed she was suffering from severely low blood sugar and that she had been hospitalized for four days with the same ailment just

a week before her death.


Jurors at the inquest gave the coroner three recommendations on how to prevent similar tragedies in the future.


They include:


-Setting up video cameras in strategic areas of the police department including the parking bay area.


-Making sure the medical histories of patients are checked when they enter the triage area of Victoria Hospital.


-Ensuring police officers physically escort prisoners when they are moving them around.


During the inquest, Prince Albert’s deputy chief of police said a full review is underway into how prisoners are escorted to their cells.


Sergeant Troy Cooper told jurors that when Sahpassum was driven into the police garage, she stood up out of the cruiser, staggered a bit, then fell straight back and hit her head on the concrete.


The lawyer for the family asked Cooper if there was a policy for officers on how to escort prisoners to cells.


Cooper said no.


He added that while the death was unfortunate, it was also unpreventable.


The jury’s recommendations are to be handed off to the chief coroner of the province.