‘Complex issue’ delays watchdog probe into 2016 White Rock in-custody death

Patricia Ann Wilson was found unresponsive on March 29, 2016

More than 2½ years after the death of a woman in White Rock RCMP cells, officials with the Independent Investigations Office say their examination of Patricia Ann Wilson’s file will continue until at least the new year.

Ron MacDonald, chief civilian director of the IIO, said this week that one “complex” aspect of Wilson’s case is still left to resolve before he can sign off.

He wouldn’t elaborate on what that aspect was, but said it has been “outstanding for a few months now” and wouldn’t be wrapping up before the end of December.

“But I’m hoping it won’t take too much longer than that,” MacDonald told Peace Arch News Friday.

“I can ensure you and your readers the reason for (the length of the investigation so far) is because we are being very thorough in examination of the circumstances behind Miss Wilson’s death.”

Wilson, 58, was found unresponsive on the morning of March 29, 2016, less than four hours after she had been assessed by paramedics. Attempts to revive her were unsuccessful, a news release issued at the time stated.

The release did not say why paramedics were initially called, however, Mounties did say that Wilson – who was later described by friends as someone who “always had a big smile” – had been arrested four days earlier, on an outstanding warrant, and was being held for a March 29 appearance in Surrey Provincial Court.

READ MORE: Woman, 58, dies in White Rock RCMP custody

READ MORE: White Rock woman who died in police custody ‘a kind soul’

Following her death, the IIO initially deployed seven investigators. Steps in the first six months of the investigation included “interviewing civilian witnesses, designating and interviewing subject and witness officers, examining evidence from the scene and reviewing video from White Rock RCMP cells,” an IIO spokesperson told PAN six months later.

Friday, MacDonald said investigators have kept in touch with Wilson’s family.

He noted it “wouldn’t be fair to the individuals still involved in the investigation” to elaborate on the outstanding issue, but said it was an aspect that was “out of our control.”

“Every case is different and there are always going to be ones that take longer than we want,” he said.

MacDonald said Wilson’s case is one of just four on the IIO’s books that pre-date 2017 and remain outstanding.

He noted that of 70 IIO files opened since April 1 of this year, 20 remain active. Of 119 opened in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2018, six are outstanding, he added.

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