Edmonton family searching for answers after man in ‘confrontation’ with remand centre staff dies

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A grieving family wants answers after 50-year-old Danny Robinson died following a confrontation with staff at the Edmonton Remand Centre.

Danny Robinson died last month after an incident while he was in custody. His family wants answers. (Submitted by Marilyn Hayward)

WARNING: This story contains a graphic photograph.

A grieving family wants answers after 50-year-old Danny Robinson died following a confrontation with staff at the Edmonton Remand Centre (ERC). 

Robinson’s family said he was pulled over by Edmonton police on Aug. 23, and taken into custody for unpaid traffic fines. His brother was able to pay the fines the following day and Robinson was expected to be released that evening.

In a statement, Edmonton police said “a male detainee became involved in a confrontation with ERC staff” on Aug. 24.

Alberta Health Services said paramedics were dispatched to the remand centre around 9:22 p.m. that evening, arriving at the facility within 10 minutes.

Robinson’s mother, Marilyn Hayward, who lives in Ontario, said she called the facility on Aug. 24 to ask about her son.

She said a remand centre employee told her that Robinson became confrontational after being asked to wear a mask upon release, something she thought was odd, because her son hadn’t had a problem with that before. 

Hayward said she didn’t learn for many hours that her son was in hospital. An ambulance was dispatched roughly 12 hours before she was made aware of the situation, she said.

After six days in a coma, Robinson, a father of two, was dead. The only explanation the family has received was that his heart stopped and his brain had been deprived of oxygen.

“That doesn’t explain all of the marks on his — his whole head was just beaten,” Hayward said in an interview. He also had marks on other parts of his body, she said.

Robinson’s face appears bruised after the altercation in a photo supplied by his family. (Submitted by Mike Robinson)

In their statement, Edmonton police said the detainee died in hospital on Aug. 31. An autopsy completed Sept. 7 determined the death was non-criminal, police said.

A police investigation that had been launched into the incident was discontinued after the death was ruled non-criminal.

“As such, the EPS is no longer conducting a criminal investigation,” a police spokesperson said in a statement.

EPS referred questions about Robinson’s death to Alberta Justice.

“This incident is being taken seriously, with a full internal review through a board of inquiry,” Justice and Solicitor General spokesperson Dan Laville said in an emailed statement.

The internal review will include examining “specific information relative to the sequence of events and the tactics or procedures undertaken by correctional peace officers,” he said.

Laville said he was able to confirm that two separate emergency codes were initiated, one for the initial security emergency and another for a medical emergency.

“The protocol during emergencies is to notify next of kin as soon as the medical emergency has been addressed and any additional medical assessment has been completed,” he said.

Internal reviews after inmate deaths are conducted to determine what happened and if changes are needed.

Following the internal review, a fatality inquiry will be held under the Fatality Inquiries Act, Laville said.

An inquiry could be a year or two or more away. Hayward teared up as she tried to explain the difficulty of travelling back and forth. She said that in the meantime, she hopes the autopsy report will answer some questions. 

“In a nutshell,” she said, “no one has given us any answers or any news that would be worthwhile knowing.”

Robinson’s mother remembers him as forgiving and helpful, with a brilliant smile. 

“All he ever wanted to do really was his best, and to make others happy.”

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