The Fatality Review Board will decide if a public inquiry is needed into the death of a Red Deer Remand Centre prisoner.
Alberta Justice spokeswoman Jill McKenzie said the board is reviewing the case of Terrence Douglas Poulton, 49, who died on Jan. 21 inside a cell after being arrested a few hours earlier.
It’s uncertain when the review will be done.
McKenzie said a public fatality inquiry isn’t always mandatory in the case of someone who has died in custody.
Under the Fatality Inquiries Act, the board can decide against holding an inquiry if it’s satisfied the death was due to natural causes and unpreventable, and that the public would not be served by a public inquiry; or that there was no meaningful connection between the death and the nature or quality of care or supervision that was provided.
A Calgary medical examiner’s autopsy report revealed that Poulton died of atherosclerotic and hypertensive cardiovascular disease, and that the prescription painkiller oxycodone may have contributed to his death.
Atherosclerotic and hypertensive cardiovascular disease is the most common cause of sudden and unexpected death. The autopsy report said that narrowed coronary arteries can increase the risk of an abnormal heart rhythm, heart attack and sudden death.
The report further said that emergency medical services was called to Poulton’s cell but resuscitation was unsuccessful.
Poulton was arrested after police found him intoxicated in a snow bank near a road, the report said. It also showed that the oxycodone, which has a brand name of OxyContin, was higher than expected for the prescribed dose.
This may have resulted in him appearing intoxicated.
If an inquiry is recommended, a date will be scheduled and placed on the Alberta Justice website.
The board is appointed and is composed of a lawyer, a physician and a layperson. The chief medical examiner is also a member of the board but cannot vote on any matter before it.
Judges presiding over fatality inquiries may make recommendations for the prevention of similar incidents but can’t make any findings of legal responsibility.