Man who died from Okanagan RCMP Taser had mental health challenges, family says

Man who died from Okanagan RCMP Taser had mental health challenges, family says

Family have identifed the man as 38-year-old Clayton Donnelly of Kelowna.

A Kelowna man who died after being tasered by police in Malakwa earlier this week suffered from mental health challenges, according to his family.

His step-mom Kelly Harrison, said Clayton Donnelly struggled for years with his mental health prior to his death on Oct. 28.

In a Facebook post she lamented the negative comments about Donnelly posted online and the lack of support available to adults suffering from mental illness.

“For those who like to condemn and judge and leave nasty messages on Facebook, maybe think a bit how you feel if it was your own loved one,” wrote Harrison.

“If I see one more comment, that he is a criminal and he deserved it I will scream. He is not a criminal he is a tortured soul, who was suffering from mental illness. This story is also about a wonderful family, that for over two years tried to get him help with success!”

According to police, officers responded to a call for an erratic driver on Highway 97 in Lake Country around 1:30 a.m. on Oct. 28 and briefly stopped the vehicle south of Sicamous before it fled.

After pursing the vehicle for more than 20 kilometres, officers managed to stop the vehicle in Malakwa at approximately 3:20 a.m., however the driver allegedly resisted arrest.

As a result, police used a stun gun to arrest him, however he entered medical distress and was taken to hospital where he died on the evening of Oct. 29.

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The Independent Investigations Office (IIO), a civilian agency that investigates all police-officer related incidents that result in death or serious harm, is looking into the events which led up to the 38-year-old’s death.

An autopsy will be conducted to try and determine what caused his death after he was taken into police custody.

Ronald J. MacDonald, the Chief Civilian Director of the IIO said that while an autopsy will be completed soon, some of the related tests conducted by the forensic pathologist could take months.

He said the IIO is in the process of gathering evidence from the police vehicles involved, including GPS data and recordings of radio transmissions as well as video footage. He said the investigation is still in its early stages.

The IIO did not release the man’s name citing privacy legislation.

Along with the IIO, the BC Coroners Service is also investigating

Donnelly’s step-mom asked anyone who witnessed anything that might help the Independent Investigations Office unravel the events of his death to contact them at 1-855-446-8477.

“Whatever the truth is it is, we just want to know,” the post concludes.

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Paul Clarke
Assistant bureau chief, B.C. Interior South Division
Email me at paul.clarke@blackpress.ca
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