Blue Line

Quebec’s police watchdog investigates death in Inukjuak jail cell

May 31, 2023  By Jeff Pelletier, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

May 31, 2023, Inukjuak, Que. – Quebec’s police watchdog says it is investigating the death of a detainee in an Inukjuak jail cell last week.

The incident occurred in the Hudson coast Nunavik community on May 25.

The Bureau of Independent Investigations, which probes police incidents involving serious injuries or death, provided a brief timeline of what happened that day.

At around 7 p.m., police responded to a complaint of someone who was intoxicated and knocking on the door of a residence.


A half-hour later, the person was arrested for public intoxication and taken to the Nunavik police station in Inukjuak. At around 10 p.m., the person was found by a cellmate and guard lying down unconscious.

Police attempted to resuscitate the individual, who was brought to the local health centre and pronounced dead at around 10:40 p.m.

The bureau did not reveal the person’s name, age or gender. An investigator with the bureau said in a voicemail that its policy is to not identify individuals during ongoing investigations.

The next day, on May 26, the bureau announced it was investigating and that it was requesting the support of Montreal police to aid in the investigation.

This is the third reported incident in just under two years in which an intoxicated person has died while in Nunavik police custody.

In separate incidents last year, a woman from Akulivik and a woman from Puvirnituq were taken into custody and later found dead in their jail cells.

In both cases, the bureau investigated but Quebec’s Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions office deemed there was no wrongdoing on the part of police and no charges were laid.

In April, when asked about incidents in which intoxicated people died in police custody, Nunavik deputy police Chief Jean-Francois Morin said that with the level of substance use in Nunavik communities, people sometimes die of overconsumption in their homes. However, he said, it’s rare for it to happen at the police station.

Nunavik Police Services Chief Jean-Pierre Larose also spoke out on the matter, calling for more mobile crisis intervention services in communities.

The Bureau of Independent Investigations has also opened two other investigations this year involving people who were injured during interactions with police.

On April 12, a suspect in Kuujjuaraapik was taken into custody for a suspected breach of conditions. While in jail, the person began convulsing and was taken to hospital in serious condition.

On May 12, a report of an intoxicated person in Inukjuak led to an armed standoff in which police shot the suspect. The person was taken to the health centre where their condition stabilized.

– Nunatsiaq News

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