Inquest begins into 2016 in-custody death of Port Alberni teen
VICTORIA -- An inquest is underway into the death of an 18-year-old Vancouver Island woman who died in a Victoria hospital five years ago.
Jocelyn George, an Indigenous mother of two young children, died on June 24, 2016, just hours after being transferred from RCMP custody in Port Alberni.
The inquest was originally scheduled to be held last July but was put off due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The inquest got underway Monday morning at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni and is scheduled to last until June 29.
The independent office that examines all police-involved deaths in B.C. investigated George's death and issued a final report in January 2018.
It found George was being held in custody for public intoxication but her condition deteriorated and she was airlifted to Victoria, where she died of inflammation of the heart muscle.
The report found the death was linked to the use of toxic drugs and it cleared RCMP of any wrongdoing, but the BC Coroners Service says an inquest is mandatory because George died while in police custody.
Coroner Margaret Janzen and a jury will hear evidence from witnesses under oath to determine how and why George died, the coroners service said in a June 14 statement.
“The jury will have the opportunity to make recommendations aimed at preventing deaths under similar circumstances,” the statement said.
With files from the Canadian Press