The B.C. Coroner's Service has ruled the death of 20-year-old Silas Rogers was a cocaine-induced heart-attack, while also revealing that the UBC student had been on a drug and alcohol binge leading up to his arrest in Whistler during the Olympic Games.
Rogers was arrested in Whistler for being drunk in public and held in cells overnight, for roughly 11 hours, until he was released on the morning Feb. 24. He returned to Vancouver and UBC, where he continued partying until he was found unconscious in his dorm room by friends in the early hours of Feb. 26. Paramedics were called and he was rushed to hospital, where he later passed away.
The RCMP acknowledged that Rogers, originally from New Brunswick, fell several times in cells, hitting his head a reported eight times on the floor and walls. The guards said that they did not see Rogers fall because the video monitor for the cell was not working.
The head injuries were identified as a potential cause or contributor to Rogers' death, and triggered an internal investigation by police into what occurred during the hours that Rogers was in their care.
The coroners' investigation found that Rogers' death was not related to his stay in Whistler cells, but was the result of taking cocaine after his release. As well, the toxicology report discovered that Rogers had taken a cocktail of drugs in the days leading up to his death, including heroin and an anti-anxiety medication, in addition to consuming alcohol.
While the police were exonerated in Rogers' death, Vancouver regional coroner Owen Court wrote in his investigation that, "I find it troubling that an obviously intoxicated individual fell and struck his head numerous times while in police custody, yet received so little attention."
The RCMP said it has changed the monitoring procedures when it comes to heavily intoxicated individuals.
During the Olympics, the Whistler RCMP office was bolstered by hundreds of additional officers from across the country, as well as members of the Canadian Armed Forces.
According to the police report, Rogers and two friends travelled to Whistler on the morning of Feb. 23. In the afternoon they attended a concert, and Rogers took a drug called Clonazepam, an epilepsy, anxiety and panic disorder drug that had been prescribed to him. While it's meant to be taken orally, Rogers had been crushing the tablets and snorting them while drinking.
He became intoxicated, and by the time he and his friends arrived at the Whistler Sliding Centre to attend an event he was no longer able to stand or walk without assistance. That's when he came to the attention of police, who brought him to the Whistler RCMP detachment to be held until sober.
The camera monitoring the cell recorded Rogers falling and hitting his head eight times between roughly 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. A police officer saw the first incident and helped Rogers, but the monitor for the cell was not working and the police officers guarding him did not notice the last seven falls.
Staff Sergeant Steve LeClair said the Whistler RCMP has changed its procedures since the incident. They have acquired a back-up monitor, "and if there is a problem with the video in there we will conduct more frequent checks of visitors."
The police released Rogers at 3:30 a.m. when he was considered sober enough to get home, and he was described as coherent, co-operative and apologetic. He managed to get back to his lodgings at the UBC Whistler Lodge and that afternoon began to consume alcohol and Clonazepam once again.
They left Whistler at 4 p.m. and arrived back at UBC at 6:30 p.m. that night. According to witnesses Rogers continued drinking alcohol and ingested both heroin and cocaine. He went to bed at 1 a.m. the next morning, Feb. 26, and was found unresponsive by friends an hour later. Paramedics determined he was in cardiac arrest and brought him to Vancouver Hospital where he was diagnosed with a lack of oxygen to the brain. He was not expected to survive and was kept alive on a ventilator until relatives arrived. At 9:47 a.m. he was taken from life support and passed away.
The autopsy determined that there was no significant traumatic brain injuries related to his falls that could have contributed to his death.
Court said he was satisfied with the changes that the RCMP have introduced since Rogers' death, and did not make any recommendations in his report.