An investigation has cleared RCMP officers in the death of a man who died of a drug overdose while in custody in Fort McMurray in 2017.

Rodney Brown, 32, was arrested on suspicion of trafficking cocaine on May 11, 2017, and taken into custody to await a bail hearing.

The next day Brown was found on the floor in medical distress and was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead.

An autopsy found Brown had a high level of cocaine in his system, along with traces of fentanyl. Fragments of a plastic baggie were found in his stomach.

On Tuesday, the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team, which examines incidents involving police that result in serious injury or death, said no charges will be laid in the case.

“The actions of the officers who dealt with him demonstrated concern for his well-being and responsiveness to his medical needs,” a news release said.

“The care and supervision provided to the man was reasonable and demonstrates genuine concern for his safety. There are no reasonable grounds to believe the conduct of any officer would constitute a criminal offence.”

ASIRT said it is a reasonable inference that Brown tried to conceal drugs within his body, which later led to him going into medical distress and ultimately resulted in his death.

“This tragic conclusion is only available through the compilation of the observations of numerous individual witnesses, the analysis of dozens of hours of CCTV footage, an autopsy and post-mortem toxicology analysis that provide a complete picture of what was a medical death.”

The province intends to conduct a fatality inquiry into Brown’s death now that ASIRT has completed its investigation. 

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