John Robert Murrell appears in this undated police mug shot taken around 2008.

John Robert Murrell appears in this undated police mug shot taken around 2008.

Revelstoke RCMP prisoner injury investigation fizzles without complaint

Wild chase, escape attempt and injury in RCMP custody led to investigation that trailed off with jurisdictional confusion and no end result

Fourteen months after a prisoner of the Revelstoke RCMP was injured either while being arrested, while in custody, or during an escape attempt, the official investigation has trailed off without a definitive conclusion or report.

The injury dates back to Jan. 14, 2012. John Robert Murrell, then about 37, sped away from RCMP in Golden, B.C. when they tried to stop his vehicle for erratic driving. After a chase in which Murrell got away a couple of times, a spike belt was used to stop the vehicle near Revelstoke and Murrell was arrested.

He was taken to Queen Victoria Hospital to be checked for injuries sustained during the arrest, including an X-ray, before he was locked up at the Revelstoke RCMP detachment.

Later in the day, hospital staff asked to see Murrell again. It was while leaving the hospital after this second attempt that Murrell made a break for it, jumping down the big embankment outside of the Queen Victoria Hospital emergency department.

During the escape attempt, a Revelstoke RCMP officer suffered a broken shoulder.

Because Murrell suffered an in-custody injury, police procedure required an investigation by an outside department, and the case was referred to the West Vancouver Police Department.

The Times Review followed up with that Lower Mainland detachment, but was eventually told the case had been sent to the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner (OPCC).

OPCC spokesperson Rollie Woods is the Deputy Police Complaint Commissioner. In an interview with the Times Review last week, Woods cited confusion with the case, saying the OPCC didn’t have jurisdiction over the incident.

Woods said the OPCC didn’t receive an official complaint about the incident, and said they weren’t investigating the file.

“I don’t expect it is going to go anywhere,” Woods said. “There’s no reason for us to look at it anymore.”

However, Woods did say he’d do one last check later this week to confirm his belief.

The investigation was characterized by jurisdictional confusion from the start. The B.C. RCMP media centre issued a press release two days after the arrest, announcing an investigation by the West Vancouver Police Department. However, spokespersons from both organizations initially referred media calls to the other. The Revelstoke RCMP also said they couldn’t comment.

Following a 14-month investigation, it seems there will be no information forthcoming explaining where, why or how Murrell was injured during the arrest.

John Robert Murrell’s injuries while in custody didn’t attract any public outcry, possibly due to his history of extremely dangerous attempts to evade capture that would make injury to anyone involved a very possible outcome.

Murrell had racked up over 30 criminal convictions when he led Kamloops RCMP on a lengthy high speed chase in September of 2008. After he crashed his pickup truck, he fled on foot and was eventually subdued by a police dog.

Later in December of that year, Kamloops RCMP alleged Murrell was the driver of a Jeep Cherokee that rammed an RCMP cruiser during a police chase.

On April 24, 2012, Murrell was sentenced for several charges relating to the Revelstoke incident, including breach of probation, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, dangerous driving causing bodily harm, escape from lawful custody, assault with intent to resist arrest and wilfully obstructing a peace officer.

He received several one-year terms for the offences, and a four-year term for the charge of dangerous driving causing bodily harm. He also received a lifetime driving ban. He was sentenced in court in Salmon Arm.

 

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