Yukon North Of Ordinary

News archive for April 20, 2010

Man left in own filth on cell floor

The RCMP officers and guards who were working in Whitehorse cells the day Raymond Silverfox died saw that the Carmacks man had soiled himself and his cell but left him lying on the floor of the drunk tank.

By Justine Davidson on April 20, 2010 at 3:29 pm

The RCMP officers and guards who were working in Whitehorse cells the day Raymond Silverfox died saw that the Carmacks man had soiled himself and his cell but left him lying on the floor of the drunk tank.

The two officers who were working in cells that day took the stand yesterday during the third day of a coroner’s inquest into the 43-year-old man’s death.

Silverfox died on Dec. 2, 2008 at Whitehorse General Hospital 16 hours after police picked him up from the Salvation Army shelter and put him in cells to sober up.

The shelter staff had called the ambulance for help because Silverfox was repeatedly vomiting on the floor of the dining lounge. The paramedics offered to take him to the hospital, but he refused, so they called the police. He was arrested and put in the drunk tank with a note to “release when sober.”

But Silverfox’s condition only got worse. He spent the entire day lying on the floor of his cell, rolling from side to side, unable to control his bodily functions, according to the descriptions of his behaviour from constables Jeff Kalles and Dennis Connelly.

Both men started their shifts at 7:00 that morning, about two hours after Silverfox had been brought in. Each said he looked into Silverfox’s cell at the beginning of his shift, and Connelly released Silverfox’s two cell mates at 7 a.m.

Earlier in the inquest, the coroner’s jury heard from one of those men, Dougie Jack, who said he asked Connelly to help Silverfox.

“He was really sick. I knew there was something wrong with him,” Jack told the jury. “... We told (the officer), ‘this guy needs help.’ ... He just said ‘get your stuff and get out.

We’re really busy today.’ I remember that clear as day.”

Connelly, however, said he did not remember having that exchange. He did remember seeing Silverfox had wet his pants, and told Jack and his friend to avoid the puddle on the floor as they left the cell.

“He’s definitely pissed himself,” he announced to the other officers as he entered the guard room. Recording devices placed throughout the cell block and guard room captured everything said there during the day, but both officers denied saying certain things shown in the transcript of the tape.

At one point, according to the transcript, Connelly told one of his coworkers Silverfox had “pissed himself” but hadn’t taken off his pants “because he’s pooped in them.” But Connelly insisted he said “because it’s cool in there,” and did not notice Silverfox had soiled himself.

At another point, the transcript records Connelly as saying “Poopy, Poopy, McPoopy,” after looking into Silverfox’s cell. He testified yesterday he didn’t remember saying such a thing.

Kalles, who was the officer in charge of the cells, said when he returned to the area after being out for the day, one of the guards told him Silverfox’s cell was dirty.

He looked at it on the surveillance monitor and noted most of the floor was smeared with vomit and feces. He estimated 60 per cent of the cell floor was covered in bodily fluids. But Silverfox remained lying on the floor of the filthy cell and no one attempted to clean him up or give him fresh clothes.

Connelly said Silverfox asked for a mat at one point, but was refused. At no point did either man think to get medical help for Silverfox because both assumed he was just sick from drinking.

At one point, Kalles is recorded as saying “He must be on drugs or something ... because he can’t get up. He’s just rolling around.”

When asked whose responsibility it is to keep the cells clean, Connelly said “everyone.”

Kalles was less clear in his answer to that repeated question, but ultimately said the guards, officers and watch commander. He told the coroner the watch commander is responsible for determining if someone is in an “uninhabitable” cell, and for determining if someone is in medical distress.

It was also noted the watch commanders rely on communication from the guards and officers because they do not often go down to the cells.

During their testimonies, both officers referred to changes at the RCMP detachment since Silverfox’s death. There is better communication between guards and members now, Kalles said, and the ambulance is being called more often. He said emergency medical services has come to the detachment more than 100 times since the beginning of the year.

Senior officers in the detachment also met with the guards and officers who work in the cells after Silverfox’s death and reiterated many of the policies on treatment and care of intoxicated people, Kalles noted.

The jury has not yet heard from anyone who was working when Silverfox was taken to the hospital. They have heard his death was pneumonia-related.

The corner’s inquest into Silverfox’s death is scheduled to continue until Friday. The two-woman, four-man jury will then be asked to determine how Silverfox died and will be invited to make recommendations on how such a death may be prevented in the future.

Their recommendations are non-binding and they are not supposed to find fault as in a trial.

The inquest is being overseen by chief coroner Sharon Hanley.

CommentsAdd a comment

Donald McKenzie

Apr 20, 2010 at 9:00 pm

While I understand that Mr. Silverfox soiled himself, and that is part and parcel, of his death, I cannot understand why a little compassion cannot be shown.  Why does it have to be force-fed to us, in such a manner, that it will be the ONLY thought we will have of the deceased?  He’s dead, and the last bit of dignity he will ever have, is gone as well.  Then I think of this person’s family, and feel awful for them, as this is being pushed on the public.

JC

Apr 20, 2010 at 9:38 pm

Just curious. Now, that the 1st Nations have their settlement, do they have anything set up to help their own people? Or is it still the white mans problem? Oops! Responsibility.

Anonymous

Apr 21, 2010 at 12:42 pm

Just because it’s the drunk tank doesn’t mean that you can leave intoxicated persons in there in their own filth. I think the officers who were on duty at the time of Silverfox’s confinement should be ashamed of themselves. Have a little compassion, he may have been intoxicated but he’s still a human being and deserves better than what he was given.

Reading this article just makes me sick, not to mention this is the second large article I’ve read recently which involves RCMP error in judgement. I can easily say I do not feel protected by the RCMP at all.

Northern Tuchone

Apr 21, 2010 at 12:51 pm

I really try to give respectd to the RCMP but find it very difficult when I read articles such as this.  Where is the compassion for people??? How can one say they are too busy?? I cried when I read this thinking what if this were my son..what a way to have died.  YOu left him to die like he was nothing!! Too busy!!..you just didnt give a shit!!!!

D G

Apr 21, 2010 at 9:32 pm

Why should anyone give compassion to anyone who does this to themselves. If I can have the self control to not drink to excess then why cannot everyone else. And don’t blame it on your life is shitty because that is just an excuse.

Compassion to someone whose home burns in a fire = Yes

Compassion for death of someones child/parent/friend = Yes

Compassion for a drunk = NO

True what seems to have happened is disgraceful to our society in general, but I will never feel compassion for a drunk.

Anonymous

Apr 22, 2010 at 6:29 am

JC,
I find your comment to be very biased and ignorant. Who gives a S*** about the settlement and what is being done here. A man had a horrible death at the hands of the RCMP’s negligence and laziness and all you can think of is what will the FN do with the money?!

It’s people like you who make the world an incompassionate place.

yukonlady2009

Apr 22, 2010 at 10:37 am

Reading all this. Breaks my heart and feel for his daughter & family. As for JC comment.  Even if the First Nation is has settle Land claims it has nothing to do with how this respected man died. First Nation do take care of their people. I know for onething first nation governments take care of all race, they will welcome any race with respect.  I am devastated to hear of how Mr. Silverfox had very uncomfortable death in the hands of People that suppoce serve and protect. Talk about poewer trip within the police force.  I lost respect for them.  Again my heart go’s out to the Raymond’s Daughter & the Silverfox family..RIP Raymond your a Good Man.

mc Dawg

Apr 22, 2010 at 5:46 pm

“Why should anyone give compassion to anyone who does this to themselves. If I can have the self control to not drink to excess then why cannot everyone else. And don’t blame it on your life is shitty because that is just an excuse”


DG, those are some messed up comments. Yes, mr silverfox could have changed his life around etc… but the issue is how the rcmp treated him.. and its now a fact he was treated like a dog. I wonder how many other individuals get treated like this while in police custody.

Hazel Skookum

Apr 22, 2010 at 7:34 pm

I have heard awful, horrible stories on how our FN are treated within the RCMP cells, at the hands of our so-called respected police who continually use and abuse their power. 

It does no good to complain about them.  They are forever right, no matter if a human being dies at their hands.

Let’s give a big clap to the RCMP for being so caring and protective of our FN people. 

AS for our FN getting monies for our people, that too is another matter - totally not related to what’s happening here!

Friendz 4 Life

Apr 23, 2010 at 1:17 am

i will never trust rcmp again or the justice system trevor the dog got better justice then that

Anonymous

Apr 23, 2010 at 1:52 pm

Though I am not FN I feel that this type of situation goes beyond race. Who cares what race Mr. Silverfox was, he was a human being and deserved better treatment than what he got.

He was a father, brother, uncle, son and when you read the statement or if you read the signs his family has outside the courthouse you’ll see that he was not a heavy drunk.

kaska dene

Apr 23, 2010 at 2:09 pm

JC and DG

JC your comment about land claim settlement has nothing to do with this story. post your un-informed and un-intelligent comments elsewhere.

DG. just because this man was First Nations DOES NOT make him a drunk. It’s that kind of thinking and attitude that is a cancer of our society and must be done away with.

this isn’t a issue about FN people. this isn’t a issue about drinking
this isn’t a issue about land claims

this is about a man who died in the care of the very people who we are told that we can trust and respect.

posting negative and thoughtless comments is disrepectful to Mr. Silverfox and his entire family.

my thoughts and prayers go to the family.

FRANCIAS PILLMAN

Apr 23, 2010 at 3:10 pm

PLEASE PHONE YOUR MLA. MR JOHN EDZEERA WILL BE HAPPY TO HELP YOU. WELL, THATS AFTER HE HELPS HIMSELF FIRST. SWOOOOOOSH, LOOK AT THAT EAGLE FEATHER FLYING, OPPS, ITS JUST THE SOUND OF MISSING MONEY.

D G

Apr 23, 2010 at 9:43 pm

My point is this mc Dawg.

Would we be in the situation we now find ourselves in if mr. silverfox had decided not to do something he has done numerous times before.

He may have been a good man when sober but he chose to do what he did. And though yes the RCMP shoulda/coulda/woulda done some things differently they did what they did.

Hmmmm maybe if people did not do things that got them in situations like this we wouldn’t have problems. Would we.

Nick Stoneburgh

Apr 25, 2010 at 10:13 am

As for the “First Nations” settlements, they still havent learned how to use their funds and monies from govt—How many healing centres have been set up in their own communities to help those in need? Is it like on North of 60? The cheifs own are first, then whatever can be used to buy votes goes tto the next?
Ive seen that kind of action personaly, Kamloops, Cache Creek, Ashcroft, Squamish, Hobbema, Tall Cree, to name just a few Oh yeah—LIARD FN—sent fact finders to Vancouver to study gambling—Cash to gamble and free accomodations,

Anonymous

Apr 25, 2010 at 10:42 am

This is terrible, disgusting and pathetic! Our RCMP are so corrupt and unsympathetic it makes me sick to my stomach.

francias pillman

Apr 26, 2010 at 9:23 pm

Hey Anonymous, how are the RCMP corrupt, lol? Your comment makes no sense because the RCMP did nothing wrong. Raymond refused medical help, the RCMP are not BABYSITTERS. Until you work a shift in the drunk tank and know exactly what they endure, please zip it.

D G

Apr 27, 2010 at 7:24 am

Whoa. I ain’t racist, At what point did I mention he was FN I don’t care whether he was FN Asian or Caucasian you get drunk shits gonna happen this is just the worst end of the scale. As far as racism goes though my belief is that all people should be equal not some receiving government checks and others not I was born here just like the FN’s does that make me FN nope, because of my skin color and background.

What is a cancer to our society is we have this shit (alcohol) available to anyone who can legally walk into a bar/pub/liquor store and for those that aren’t legally allowed inside they still manage to get it through friends and relatives.

Somone

Apr 27, 2010 at 10:05 am

JC
First of all FN settle money has nothing to do with this.
Second if the government was smart they would have made it mandatory to complete a treatment for abuse before giving FN people their money.

DG
I’m sure you celebrated your birthday once or twice in your lifetime. So just cause he was out for a couple of days on the time of his birthday does not mean he deserves to die over it. Compassion should be felt here. He was not a drunk. He didn’t drink that much throughout his life and for him to be treated like this is unacceptable.

Peter Mather

Apr 27, 2010 at 2:53 pm

I’m very disappointed in the RCMP and the comments on this site about Mr. Silverfox bringing his death upon himself by getting drunk. If he hadn’t been abducted by the Police and taken to the drunk tank. There is a good chance he would be alive today.

The police are responsible for his well being while he is in their cells. They did not act in a responsible way. They failed to do their job, the job that we are paying them to do.

When you consider Mr. Silverfox’s death and the incident in Watson Lake, it paints a bleak picture of RCMP management in the Yukon.

RBS

Apr 27, 2010 at 7:19 pm

To all of those comments. Did any of you knew Ray??? He is a gooood person and my uncle. I looked up to him growing up. And yes the RCMP did wrong. They knew they did wrong. Who knows how many people got treated this way, or even treated worse. How would you like your family member being treated like this??? huh!!! I didn’t think so. You guys can comment all you want. The fact of the matter is that we have to come together as people and put a stop to this. Just because they wear a badge, don’t mean $$%^. The system has failed and a man has died. He had family that the so called officer could have called. I guess the good die young is dtrue. Because Ray, you were a great man. and I will never forget that.

mad FN

Apr 27, 2010 at 11:09 pm

You people that don’t have a heart, its best you keep your mouth shut. Let Ray REST IN PEACE PEACEFULLY!!! He’s in a far more better place then you’ll ever be and when your time comes you can talk all you want then!!For now shutUp!
MUSSI CHO, thank you to all that have noting but good postive things to say it’s much appreciated. I don’t care what you think but I no this was a man that was loved by his whole family. Nothing will ever bring him back but the memories will last forever..

Anonymous

Apr 28, 2010 at 6:37 am

francias,

Are you serious??? The RCMP did nothing wrong??? Just because someone is drunk does not mean they deserve to lie in their own filth and be made fun of!

Tell you what francias, lets wait until a day when you’re drunk and vommitting, we’ll throw you in a cell and leave you their. Then when you ask for a simple thing like a matt to lie on we’ll deny it to you and leave you there to rot until you die of infection. God can you not read what happened here?? How is this not corrupt? They are corrupt in the sense that they thought they were better than him and that he was worthless. So I think you shoud just shut the hell up because I don’t want to hear it.

cousin of victim

Apr 28, 2010 at 9:08 am

Pillman why don’t you zip it!! Just because you are not a human being with no compassion and think that the RCMP are not at fault, you are totally wrong. You are NO better than them and I am sure others agree. Keep your rotten comments to yourself. The RCMP had no reason to mistreat my cousin the way they did, just because he was in the drunk tank for being drunk and getting sick, they had no reason to laugh and mock him right until his death. They are suppose to be there to serve and protect us, but in this case they did not do their jobs properly.

D G

Apr 28, 2010 at 8:06 pm

They did a job it is not glamorous it is not heroic it is not well paying. Those guards did a job they were assigned to do how many go through the drunk tank daily, I don’t care whether they be FN asian or caucasion they all get the same treatment, his was not any different than any other, you all see to think that it was personal to mr ray well it was not.

True the guards could have checked on him more often, moved him to another cell and so on. SHIT HAPPENS

How about rather than a witch hunt (so old fashioned don’t you think) we try to let the people assigned to protect us do their job.

Oh and to Peter Mather he was not abducted a man that is throwing up on the floor of the shelter needs to leave they could not throw him onto the street, he would not go to the hospital so he had to go to the drunk tank.

Anonymous

Apr 28, 2010 at 9:24 pm

First of all…I want to say my heartfelt condolences to all the Silverfox families ....this is a horrid tragic death for Raymond….I pray and hope one day the pain eases for you but always remember the memories of loving Raymond are forever in your hearts ....may our Creator keep him safe in his arms till you meet again ....
As for his treatment from the RCMP it was very very disgusting and unfair ...no human being should ever be treated like he was ...they should all who were involved be held accountable for their total disrespect to him ...to leave a person to lay in their own secretions cuz they at a time were not able to care for themselves…anyone with compassion and feelings would have helped him ...but no they decided to make a mockery of him instead ...and worse it wasnt only physical mistreating it was mental also ...to make jokes and laugh of it and nasty comments….
I hope a judicial review will see the right side and do what needs to be done so that a unnecessary death like Raymond NEVER happens again ...
I have no faith at all in so called Canadian justice system….
R.I.P RAYMOND

francias pillman

Apr 29, 2010 at 5:12 pm

Unfortunely it seems you are the people filled with rage and hate. You call me heartless because I point out FACTS. Should he of died, no he shouldn’t of. But if you people want to live in a fake reality and just blame everyone else, you are the ones who lose. The guy refused medical treatment, what else is someone soppose to do? Sure the rcmp should of checked on him, but you can’t blame them for the amount of booze he drank. Enough to take his life. Stop stomping around in the sandbox like a bunch of little kids, and be adults and look at the FACTS.

mad FN and niece

Apr 29, 2010 at 10:05 pm

Ya Mr. D G “NO” family was called at all so if you Don’t NO Now you NO.. like I said and ill say again and again, ther jus tyring to cover thereselves up but you no what SHAME ON YOU!!! trying to cry now! whatever cry all you want cause in thee end you’ll have to answer to all your wrong doings and evil acts..This job you take as a joke, you lost alot of respect from alot of people and now you have to answer!

Diane37

Apr 30, 2010 at 9:36 am

Please do not use my name.

I abhor drunkeness period but what happened to Raymond Silverfox blew my mind and my trust in our protectors.

Raymond, you should have been born Trevor the Dog.

Rest in Peace young man.

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