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Home News ‘To speculate would be irresponsible’: RCMP Saskatchewan commanding officer defends press conference response to questions about Myles Sanderson’s death

‘To speculate would be irresponsible’: RCMP Saskatchewan commanding officer defends press conference response to questions about Myles Sanderson’s death

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‘To speculate would be irresponsible’: RCMP Saskatchewan commanding officer defends press conference response to questions about Myles Sanderson’s death
Saskatchewan RCMP commanding officer Rhonda Blackmore takes a question from the media during a press conference in Regina on Sunday, Sept. 4. -- Screen capture from RCMP livestream.

Saskatchewan RCMP Commanding Officer Rhonda Blackmore said critics have been too quick to judge the RCMP’s handling of Myles Sanderson’s arrest near Rosthern on Sept. 7.

Blackmore released a statement on Thursday asking the public for patience as police continued their investigation. She acknowledged that some residents were unhappy with the lack of information provided during a press conference hours after Sanderson died in police custody, but said investigators couldn’t give answers they didn’t have.

“We did not know – and still do not know – the cause of death for Myles Sanderson,” reads Blackmore’s statement. “To speculate would be irresponsible and undermine the independent investigation being conducted by Saskatoon Police Service and the Saskatchewan Serious Incident Response Team. I have seen it written that ‘somewhere in the process, police failed to uphold’ our duty of care.  This statement is extremely premature given we do not yet have information on what led to his death.

“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. Complex investigations of this nature take time and we look forward to providing further details once they have been confirmed.”

Blackmore wrote that she was extremely proud of the officers, and civilian and public service employees who helped find and arrest Sanderson three days after a mass stabbing in James Smith Cree Nation and Weldon.

She also wrote that investigators are still working on completing a detailed timeline of Sanderson’s actions that day.

“Our Major Crimes Unit continues to work to put the pieces together so we can provide further information to the public,” her statement reads. “Our first priority remains sharing the information with the victim’s families prior to the general public.”

Blackmore wrote that while the officers who participated in the search were not qualified to comment on the cause of Sanderson’s death because they were not medical experts or pathologists. Instead, she wants residents to wait for results from an independent investigation conducted by the Saskatoon Police Service and the Saskatchewan Serious Incident Response Team.

“Independent oversight of police actions is critical to public trust and confidence in the actions of police officers,” her statement reads. “This is exactly the reason why I was limited in what I could say when I spoke with the media on September 7. I am confident both investigating bodies understand the public interest in this case and will be working to release information as soon as they are able.”

The RCMP arrested Myles Sanderson at around 3:30 p.m. on Hwy 11 near Rosthern. Officers say Sanderson went into medical distress soon afterwards, and was transported by EMS to Saskatoon where he later died.

During a press conference shortly after, Blackmore said she “couldn’t speak to the specific manner of his death” because they were still waiting for an autopsy.