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Police watchdog investigating in-custody death of young Williams Lake Indigenous man

The IIO is appealing to the public for any information relevant to the investigation
About 100 people gathered Sunday, Oct. 2 outside the Williams Lake RCMP detachment to mourn the loss of 21-year-old Surrance Myers who died Oct. 1 while in police custody. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

The Independent Investigations Office (IIO) of BC has confirmed it is investigating the in-custody death of a man in Williams Lake during the early morning hours of Saturday, Oct. 1.

“Information provided by the RCMP indicates that in the evening on September 30, 2022, police stopped a man and a woman on a moped. At that time, the man was arrested and taken to the RCMP detachment and lodged in cells around 12:25 a.m. on October 1, 2022,” noted the IIO in a news release issued Monday, Oct. 3.

“At about 4:50 a.m., the man was found to be in medical distress. Emergency Health Services were called but despite life-saving measures, the man was subsequently pronounced deceased.”

The man who died in cells has been identified by his family as 21-year-old Surrance Myers. Family, friends and leaders from his Indigenous community of Yunesit’in gathered outside the RCMP detachment Sunday evening, Oct. 2 to sing and drum for the family as they awaited any information about the death.

Surrance’s father, Casey Myers, said he was notified of his son’s death at about 7:15 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 1. Sunday evening Casey still did not know why his son was in custody or what events occurred leading up to his death.

On Monday, a candle and flower remained in front of the detachment in Williams Lake where about 100 mourners gathered for the vigil the night before. A little further down the street a cardboard sign is fastened to a light post with a message scrolled across it telling passing motorists that someone died in the cells.

Myers was raised at Yunesit’in and Williams Lake, having played hockey in Williams Lake when he was younger and graduating from high school in the lakecity.

The IIO, the independent civilian oversight agency of the police in B.C., has commenced an investigation to determine what role, if any, police may have played in the death.

The IIO is asking any person with relevant information about the incident to please contact the Witness Line toll-free at 1-855-446-8477 or via the contact form on the website.

Read More: Family looks for answers into death of young Indigenous man in Williams Lake RCMP cells

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Angie Mindus

About the Author: Angie Mindus

I began my journalism career in daily and weekly newspapers in Alberta.
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