Warning: This story contains details that some readers might find graphic.
A Prince Albert, Saskatchewan man who had been on life support for weeks after an altercation with police has died.
At least six members of the Prince Albert Police Service (PAPS) used stun guns, pepper spray and batons in an attempt to arrest Boden Umpherville, 40, in the early morning of April 1.
Umpherville suffered serious injuries as a result and was sent to hospital. He was taken off life support on Wednesday morning.
“It’s so hard to accept,” said close friend Chase Sinclair.
PAPS declined to comment, referring any questions to Saskatchewan’s Serious Incident Response Team (SIRT).
SIRT, which investigates incidents where a person is injured or dies as a result of police actions or while in police custody, is investigating what happened in Umpherville.
On April 1, officers stopped a black Dodge Avenger in the 1100 block of West 13th Street in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. Police said the vehicle was reported stolen.
Three people were in the vehicle at the time, including its registered owner. The owner previously told CBC News he was driving and had not reported it stolen.
Witness video obtained by CBC News showed six police officers surrounding the vehicle, ordering Umpherville out. The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) said last week that a canine unit was also on the scene.
During the altercation, officers used stun guns on him multiple times, one officer used pepper spray, and at least one officer used a baton against the vehicle’s windshield. At least one officer appeared to punch Umpherville before grabbing him out of the vehicle to make the arrest.
Umpherville went into medical distress soon after and was sent to hospital, police say.
Doctors had told Umpherville’s family that his condition had worsened because his heart had stopped for 20 minutes before being resuscitated, the family had previously said.
CBC News has not seen footage of what led to the vehicle being stopped, or of any provocations that may have led police to attempt to arrest Umpherville.
SIRT investigators found a loaded handgun at the scene, according to a press release issued earlier this month. The provincial Department of Justice previously told CBC News that the gun did not belong to Prince Albert police officers.
The officers involved had been placed on administrative leave but have since returned to duty.
SIRT has 90 days to issue a report on the findings of the investigation, once the investigation is complete.
In accordance with Saskatchewan Police Act, a community liaison officer – a person of Indigenous or Métis ancestry – was appointed to assist in the investigation, as Umpherville was an Indigenous man.
CBC News asked the Justice Department if Umpherville’s death would affect the investigation, but a spokesperson says no further information can be provided as the investigation is ongoing.
In the meantime, the Umpherville family holds a ceremony for the man.
A GoFundMe campaign, launched Wednesday afternoon, had raised $840 as of 4:00 p.m. CST. The campaign says the money will be used to pay for the funeral and any leftovers will be split among the five Umpherville children.
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