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Sask. family sees 'closure' as inquest wraps-up

The family of a man who died while in police custody after being arrested for violating a COVID-19 public health order says they finally got the answers they’ve waited three years for.

In a statement, Sandy Pitzel, the mother of Jordan Norfield, said she and her family are relieved after the inquest into his death wrapped-up this week.

Witnesses testified Norfield tested positive for COVID-19 and was later taken into custody by the Prince Albert Police Service for leaving his assisted isolation in December of 2020. He died at the Victoria Hospital four days later.

The inquest heard how Norfield showed signs of a seizure while in his cell, but the officer on duty did not recognize his symptoms as a medical emergency at the time.

“Jordan’s first convulsive episode occurred nearly seven hours before he was taken to hospital. Jordan was eventually left laying face down and convulsing in his cell for over three hours,” the statement read.

Pitzel says hearing the evidence was difficult.

“Learning that Jordan’s death might have been prevented if an ambulance had been called earlier in the evening made hearing this evidence even more difficult,” the statement read.

In the statement, Norfield’s family said they “appreciate officers expressing regret for errors in judgement by not seeking medical care.”

The inquest heard how Norfield was later taken to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis — a serious medical condition that occurs when damaged muscle tissue releases its proteins and electrolytes in the blood. Common causes to this condition include alcohol intoxication, seizures and infections. A pathologist testified Norfield died from rhabdomyolysis complications.

The purpose of an inquest is to find facts surrounding a person's death, and potentially offer recommendations to prevent similar deaths in the future.

The jury determined the cause of death to be accidental, and made three recommendations including: having police and security officers review policies annually, random and no less than four audits of the detention centre per year, and that playback of video surveillance be available.

Pitzel says these recommendations will be helpful, and they hope it will prevent similar deaths in the future.

The statement said Norfield’s family is glad to see the PAPS made changes since his death, and hope the service will continue to improve safety. The family wants a paramedic in the cell block 24/7, or to see that cell block duty sergeants have medical training.

“This process has allowed Sandy and her family some closure,” the statement said. Top Stories

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