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Woman arrested by Sandy Bay RCMP dies while in custody, investigation called into death

An investigation is underway in Sandy Bay after a woman died while in RCMP custody this week. According to a Saskatchewan RCMP news release, a 44-year-old woman was arrested "in relation to an ongoing investigation" July 4 around 8:20 p.m.
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An investigation is underway in Sandy Bay after a woman died while in RCMP custody this week.

According to a Saskatchewan RCMP news release, a 44-year-old woman was arrested "in relation to an ongoing investigation" July 4 around 8:20 p.m. About three hours after the woman was arrested, she was found unresponsive while being held at the Sandy Bay RCMP detachment.

"Upon discovering the unresponsive female, two Sandy Bay RCMP officers performed lifesaving measures and called the Sandy Bay Health Clinic EMS. The two officers assisted EMS after their arrival," reads a Saskatchewan RCMP news release.

Despite medical intervention, the woman was pronounced dead shortly after midnight July 5 - about four hours after her initial arrest and about an hour after health workers were notified, according to the RCMP timeline. The woman's name, hometown and other identifying information have not been publicly released.

Saskatchewan RCMP have already tapped who will be doing the investigation - the Moose Jaw Police Service has been requested by RCMP to conduct what RCMP described as "an independent external investigation into the circumstances surrounding the in-custody death". The Saskatchewan Coroner's Service is also investigating the woman's death.

Unlike Manitoba, which has the provinicial Independent Investigation Unit (IIU) look into in-custody deaths independent of police, Saskatchewan typically has other police departments from elsewhere in the province investigate incidents. Saskatchewan does not have an independent investigation group like Manitoba's IIU. 

Saskatchewan RCMP has requested the provincial justice ministry and attorney general to appoint a second independent investigation observer - specifically, an Indigenous observer. A change in the Saskatchewan Police Amendment Act made last year mandates that any investigation of an in-custody death of an First Nations person must include a First Nations observer.

"If the person who suffered, or may have suffered, serious injury, death, sexual assault or interpersonal violence.. is of First Nations or Métis ancestry, the chairperson shall appoint two investigation observers, at least one of whom must be a person of First Nations or Métis ancestry," reads the amendment from last year.

"As this matter is the subject of an external investigation, no further information can be made available at this time," reads the RCMP statement on the woman's death.