The family of the man who died while in Smithers RCMP custody is speaking out, saying RCMP told them he was on “suicide watch” before his death.
Family members told Black Press Media that the man who died was 34-year-old Barrett Jack of Witset.
They stated they were informed by police on Sunday evening (Sept. 4), that Jack had died while in custody, by “taking his own life.”
According to the BC Independent Investigations Office (IIO), RCMP notified the police watchdog immediately following the death. The IIO is now investigating the death of Jack at the jail cells of the Smithers RCMP Detachment.
A release by the IIO stated that on Sunday night a guard found a man in distress and called for medical assistance. Emergency Health Services responded and transported the man to hospital where he was pronounced dead.
In a separate release, the RCMP said the medical distress was due to “self-inflicted actions.”
Jack was arrested and detained on Sept. 1, after a break, enter and assault was reported at a Telkwa residence, which allegedly resulted in a high-speed chase with the RCMP in the Telkwa area.
According to court records, Jack was remanded into custody on Sept. 2, facing several charges, including break and enter with intent to commit an indictable offence, flight from police, dangerous operation of a conveyance and two motor vehicle theft charges.
Two other individuals charged in the same incident appeared in court today (Sept. 6). One was released. All are facing similar charges to Jack, pending trial.
Family members told Black Press Media, that they understood Jack to be under “suicide watch” while in custody and are questioning how, under the circumstances, he could have harmed himself without it being noticed.
Jack leaves behind a young daughter and other family members in Witset.
The family is planning a candlelight vigil at the Smithers detachment Wednesday night (Sept. 7) at 8:55 p.m., the time at which police say Jack was found in medical distress in the cells.
~With files from Thom Barker