Other witness on Monday is Randy Wolfe’s sister – inquest adjourned until Tuesday
The next witness at the inquest was Randy Wolfe’s sister Loralie McAdam.
McAdam was arrested with Wolfe the day he died.
She spoke on how Randy just got a new job he was very “happy” with and said he wanted to use his job to provide for the rest of the family.
Loralie McAdam says the two of them along with 5 other passengers were driving around drinking and celebrating Randy’s new job. She did admit crystal meth was in the car, which she described as 12-14 small bags.
McAdam says when the spike belt was deployed and RCMP officers were coming to arrest them they began panicking about what to do with the drugs. She says her and another passenger began taking some of the crystal meth to get rid of it while throwing some around the vehicle.
At this point, she testified Randy was panicking that he was going to lose his job and she said at one point Randy declared he was going to lose his job anyway and ingested a large amount of drugs.
McAdam did not know for certain how much of the drugs all of them took including Wolfe.
She also testified that the RCMP never questioned her after her arrest and she only spoke to an officer when one informed her Randy Wolfe had passed away.
When asked by counsel for the RCMP if she would disclose to a police officer if she ingested drugs when being arrested, she said no.
There were four witnesses expected to testify on Monday, however because Sgt. Kevin Adrian’s testimony earlier in the day went for several hours the inquest only heard from two witnesses.
The inquest will reconvene on Tuesday morning.
Conclusion of Adrian’s testimony
When the inquest returned after the lunch adjournment lead investigator Adrian continued his testimony.
Adrian was asked about the relationship between the Onion Lake Cree Nation community and the local RCMP detachment. He says he was informed by the detachment’s staff sgt. that the relationship between the local detachment and the community was good. However, when Adrian arrived, he says he found the situation in his words was the “exact opposite.”
He spoke on how difficult his investigation was as he didn’t know the community and there seemed to be an unwillingness by locals to talk to police. Adrian says when he first reached out to Wolfe’s family he was not met with a positive reception. However, Adrian says Wolfe’s mother Elaine McAdam and other members of the family eventually reached out to him and were “Paramount” to the investigation.
“The chance of me solving this case was very minimal without input from the family,” Adrian told the inquest.
Coroner’s counsel Robin Ritter asked Adrian if he had any recommendations to offer the jury to consider at the conclusion of the inquest and he offered a few.
The “obvious one” to him was training – alluding to the detachment guard who he feels didn’t receive adequate training. Adrian also recommended less people to be involved in the booking process to help ensure things aren’t missed when people are taken into custody.
Adrian also recommended an improvement to community relations. While he didn’t provide a specific recommendation to the jury to help in that matter he did say with “the relational state that community is in it is almost impossible to investigate something… I am just glad I got the family involved.”
Sylvia Suman, counsel for the RCMP, then asked about Adrian’s concern about the other passengers in the vehicle being released from custody before he arrived for his investigation. Suman asked Adrian if his role as lead investigator in this matter would supersede any provision from the Criminal Code that requires the release of someone in custody and he said it did not.
The lead investigator was then asked questions by Jock Kriegler, counsel for the Wolfe family, who asked the sergeant on the importance of community relations for policing. Kriegler asked how Adrian took steps to understand the culture of the Cree nation before he embarked on his investigation and how he gained the trust of Randy Wolfe’s family in a relatively short period of time.
“If the public does not trust you, you will not solve anything,” said Adrian.
The two also spoke on the lack of audio recording at the RCMP detachment as Adrian had video to review, but could not review any audio on the night Wolfe died. He said it was “crazy” the RCMP detachment did not have audio recording available.
Lead Investigator testifies on possible missteps by RCMP before and after Wolfe’s death
The first witness at the inquest was Sgt. Kevin Adrian of the Moose Jaw Police Service who would become the lead investigator in Wolfe’s death after his agency was tasked with the investigations.
Whenever there is an in-custody death one police service will task another police service with the investigation. In this case the RCMP asked Moose Jaw police to lead the investigation.
Adrian spoke on the testimony and evidence he gathered on the circumstances of how Wolfe came into custody, how he was processed, the circumstances around his death, and the investigation that followed.
According to Adrian, a car containing 7 people of which Randy Wolfe was a passenger was reportedly driving around Onion Lake Cree Nation while consuming alcohol. There was also a suspected shooting at a home in the community involving this vehicle. After attempts by the RCMP to stop the vehicle failed a spike belt was deployed to stop the vehicle and all the passengers were arrested.
Adrian testified that there was a bag of crystal meth in the vehicle and he says his investigation determined the passengers in the vehicle were trying to determine a way to dispose of the drugs before Adrian says Wolfe consumed an “unknown” amount of crystal meth. He says his investigation uncovered evidence of crystal meth in the vehicle.
Adrian says Wolfe then taken into custody where no one from the RCMP officially inquired about Wolfe’s drug use prior to his arrest. Adrian says at the Moose Jaw detachment if a person is expected of consuming a large amount of drugs prior to arrest, a paramedic will be immediately brought to the detachment to assess the individual.
Adrian than spoke on the cause of death for Wolfe, which was a lethal combination of alcohol and Crystal meth. The lead investigator says Wolfe had 6 times what would be considered a lethal dose of crystal meth in his system.
Video evidence would show Wolfe convulsing in his jail cell before at around 2:30 in the morning before medical personell would pronounce him dead hours later.
The MJPS Sgt. then testified on the detachment guard hired by the RCMP to monitor the jail cells. Adrian says this guard did a window check on Wolfe’s cell ten times before realizing something was wrong. In his investigation, Adrian believes the guard was not properly trained and key documents to prove this guard was trained were never found.
Other missteps that Adrian believed took place was the release from custody of all other passengers in the vehicle Wolfe was in before Adrian had a chance to interview them. He also says the RCMP vehicle that arrested Wolfe was not removed from active duty as it had become a key piece of evidence in the matter and was only removed when he himself asked for it to be removed.
Adrian’s testimony was then adjourned as the inquest took a break for lunch. The inquest will reconvene Monday afternoon with the conclusion of Adrian’s testimony, follow up questions from other councel representatives, and further witnesses.
A six-person jury was selected for the inquest.
Because Randy Wolfe was Indigenous the coroner’s office requires that half of the jury is Indigenous, therefore, three of the six-person jury is Indigenous while the other three are non-Indigenous.
The inquest also chose a seventh juror who will act on stand-by.
A total of 14 witnesses are expected to be called during the inquest.
Three counsels are representing three different organizations during the inquest – for the coroner’s office – Robin Ritter, for the RCMP – Sylvia Suman and Daniel Willis, and for Elaine McAdam, the mother of Randy Wolfe – Jock Kriegler. All will have an opportunity to ask questions of the witnesses.
At the end of witness testimony, the jury will be tasked with determining how Wolfe died and will also be given an opportunity to make recommendations to prevent similar deaths in the future.
An inquest into the death of a man at an Onion Lake RCMP cell is underway in Lloydminster this week.
19 year-old Randy Wolfe of Onion Lake Cree Nation died while in custody of the RCMP in October 2019.
Wolfe was found unresponsive in his cell on October 12th and when medical personnel arrived on the scene he was pronounced dead.
Public inquest’s are called by Saskatchewan’s Coroner’s office for any in-custody death the chief coroner feels could have been prevented. Inquests are then used to examine how the person died and give a six-person jury a chance to make recommendations to help prevent similar deaths in the future. They are not used to find fault.
The inquest into Wolfe’s death was scheduled to take place this past summer, but was adjourned as representatives for the family say they were not ready to deal with “emotional turmoil.”
Also during last summers proceedings counsel representing Onion Lake Cree Nation made claims that this inquest would reveal the RCMP was at fault in Wolfe’s death.
The re-scheduled inquest will run this week in Lloydminster beginning with jury selection on Monday morning.
(PHOTO – Randy Wolfe – courtesy of Marshall funeral Service)