Date set for pandemic-delayed inquest into 2016 in-custody death of B.C. teen

Date set for pandemic-delayed inquest into 2016 in-custody death of B.C. teen

PORT ALBERNI, B.C. — An inquest into the police-custody death of an 18-year-old Vancouver Island woman will be held in Port Alberni next week, nearly five years after she died.

Jocelyn George, an Indigenous mother of two young children, died in a Victoria hospital on June 24, 2016, just hours after being transferred from RCMP custody in Port Alberni.

The inquest was originally scheduled to be held last July but was put off due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The independent office that examines all police-involved deaths in B.C. investigated George’s death and issued a final report in January 2018.

It found George was being held in custody for public intoxication but her condition deteriorated and she was airlifted to Victoria, where she died of inflammation of the heart muscle.

The report found the death was linked to the use of toxic drugs and it cleared RCMP of any wrongdoing, but the BC Coroners Service says an inquest is mandatory because George died while in police custody.

Coroner Margaret Janzen and a jury will hear evidence from witnesses under oath to determine how and why George died, the coroners service says in a statement.

“The jury will have the opportunity to make recommendations aimed at preventing deaths under similar circumstances,” the statement says.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 14, 2021.

The Canadian PressThe Canadian Press

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