The family of a Kamloops man who died in an RCMP holding cell four months ago will soon have long-awaited answers to what happened on the night he passed away.
On March 13 at about 6 a.m., Randy Lampreau, who police say was arrested for being intoxicated in public, was found dead in a cell at the Battle Street detachment, leading the Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia (IIO BC) to launch an investigation into whether police actions or inactions are linked to his death.
On Thursday, the family of Lampreau and the BC Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) will hold a press conference outside the Double Tree Hotel in downtown Kamloops after the IIO releases findings of its report.
“It’s been months and months and months of knowing nothing,” said Regina Basil, Lampreau’s older sister.
It’s not unusual for the civilian-led police oversight agency to meet with family members to discuss conclusions of a report, IIO chief civilian director Ronald MacDonald told KTW.
He said the Lampreau report will be release Thursday at 3 p.m., which is at the same time as the family's scheduled press conference.
“We always make sure they know what’s happening before it becomes public,” he said.
According to the IIO, Kamloops Mounties responded to a complaint from a business in the 100-block of Victoria Street downtown at 9:30 p.m. on March 12. The complaint concerned an apparently intoxicated man remaining at the business after he was asked to leave. Police officers found the man in a nearby parking lot, where he was arrested under the Liquor Control and Licensing Act and taken to RCMP cells, to be released when he was able to care for himself.
However, Lampreau was found unresponsive in his cell at just before 6 a.m. on March 13 and was eventually pronounced deceased.
In light of this incident, the BCCLA is reiterating its call for public intoxication to be viewed from a public health lens by establishing more sobering centres in B.C. as an alternative to holding cells. The civil liberties association said cells pose a danger to those in medical distress who are not being properly monitored by medical professionals.
Sobering centres are facilities in which intoxicated individuals can sober up under the supervision of medical professionals, said BCCLA policy director Micheal Vonn.
While there are a few in B.C., such as the Quibble Creek Sobering and Assessment Centre in Surrey, Vonn described their presence as rare. Quibble Creek is a low-barrier facility that accepts people dropped off by the RCMP, but doesn’t accept people who are considered a danger to themselves or others.
Vonn said that while the BCCLA is reserving judgment on Lampreau’s death until the IIO report is released, she believes his death may have been avoidable if a sobering centre was available to him.
Kamloops RCMP Cpl. Jodi Shelkie said intoxicated individuals are held in cells because police are obligated to monitor them around the clock.
“There is no place else to take them,” she said, adding that arrests are made if someone is posing a danger to themselves or others or are unable to care for themselves.
Shelkie said if there was a sobering centre in Kamloops, and a person met whatever parameters required to be admitted, it could be an option for police.
Lampreau, who was 49 when he died, grew up in Kamloops.
Basil described her brother as a loving and caring individual who was always giving of himself.
“If he had a sandwich for himself, he would give it to you if you were hungry — that kind of guy,” Basil said.
She said her brother had recently moved back to his hometown from Cache Creek and had been looking for work.
Lampreau had worked various jobs, including in logging and construction, she said.
Basil, who lives in Penticton, said it’s been difficult to properly grieve her brother’s death while the investigation has been ongoing.
“It’s been so hard,” Basil said. “It’s something I would not wish on anybody — it’s so heartbreaking.”
One question she hopes is answered is whether police had evidence to suggest her brother was, in fact, intoxicated on the night he was arrested.
Regardless of what the report determines, Basil believes the RCMP bears some responsibility.
“If they have you in their cells, they are responsible for you,” she said, adding she hopes to hear her brother didn’t suffer the night he died.