Cops Want Everyone to Chill on Questions About Mass Killer’s Death in Custody: ‘This Is Not a TV Drama’

Facing pressure from the public and media, a commanding RCMP officer in Canada has pushed back on providing immediate answers into the death of a man suspected in 10 murders.
Assistant Commissioner Rhonda Blackmore speaks during a press conference at RCMP "F" Division Headquarters in Regina on Wednesday Sept. 7, 2022.
Assistant Commissioner Rhonda Blackmore speaks during a press conference at RCMP "F" Division Headquarters in Regina on Wednesday Sept. 7, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Michael Bell

A week after accused mass killer Myles Sanderson died in police custody, Canada’s federal police force is on the defensive about the lack of answers it has provided. 

Sanderson, 30, and his brother Damien, 31, were the only known suspects in mass stabbings near the James Smith Cree Nation and Weldon, Saskatchewan; 10 people were killed and 18 others were injured. Both brothers are now dead. 

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Damien was found dead near James Smith Cree Nation with wounds that police said did not appear to be self-inflicted. But Myles Sanderson was capturedby police, only to go into  “medical distress” and die shortly afterwards.  

The RCMP have not said how they believe he died, what lifesaving measures officers took to save him, and have said the results of his autopsy will not be made public. 

The police force has faced subsequent criticism about the lack of transparency, an issue that has plagued the organization for years, particularly after a mass shooting in 2020

In a statement released Thursday, RCMP Assistant Commissioner Rhonda Blackmore, the top Mountie in Saskatchewan, addressed the backlash. 

“I ask you all to remember this is not a TV drama where we will have all of the answers by the end of the episode,” she said. “Complex investigations of this nature take time and we can look forward to providing further details once they have been confirmed.” 

Blackmore also referenced a Globe and Mail column that said that because Sanderson died in custody, “police failed to uphold” their duty of care. 

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“This statement is extremely premature given we do not yet have information on what led to his [Sanderson’s] death,” she said. 

Blackmore went on to say police are waiting on an independent investigation to be completed by the Saskatoon Police Service and the Saskatchewan Serious Incident Response Team. 

“I understand and appreciate there are still unanswered questions and we are fully committed to providing a detailed timeline once investigators have it completed,” she said. 

Similar concerns over RCMP secrecy were also raised in the aftermath of the 2020 Portapique, Nova Scotia mass killing, Canada’s worst in history. 

In a subsequent public inquiry, RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki apologized for mistakes made by the police force, including the lack of details provided to the public in the days that followed. 

“We need to be able to respond. We need to be able to communicate, both within and externally,” Lucki said at the time. 

That massacre resulted in 22 people being killed in a 13-hour rampage, by a gunman disguised as an RCMP officer.