An inquest into the 2012 jail death of a man police say was a high-ranking biker gang member has been extended.
Jean Paul (J.P.) Beaumont, 39, was an inmate at the Brandon Correctional Centre when he was found dead on Oct. 14, 2012. His death was deemed non-criminal, with the cause determined to be a morphine overdose, following an investigation by the Brandon Police Service and the RCMP.
An inquest, which started in late October, is looking into how he accessed the morphine, how it got into his system and if anything could have been done to prevent his death. It was scheduled to last one week, but has been extended and will continue in the new year.
“It was a very intense week,” said J.P. Beaumont’s sister, Suzanne Beaumont. “It was emotionally draining for me and I was physically exhausted, but content.”
“There’s just so much to go through and so many people to hear from, and I truly do appreciate that his honour wants to take his time and hear from everyone involved and not rush through it,” Beaumont added.
Died 5 days before trial
Beaumont died five days before he was scheduled to go to trial on one count of flight from police. He had another court date scheduled for November 2012 for a dangerous driving charge and alleged breaches of his bail conditions.
Court documents submitted by the Winnipeg Police Service’s organized crime unit at the time indicated Beaumont was the sergeant-at-arms and a full-patch member of the Rock Machine biker gang.
The inquest has so far heard from guards who were working when Beaumont was found dead and saw video from the cell block where he was incarcerated, according to his sister.
On the third day of the inquest, she also visited the cell block where he died.
“It was surreal,” said Beaumont of the visit, her first since his death. “It was really hard to be on the [cell] range.”
Sister hopes for change
Suzanne Beaumont has been advocating for inmates since her brother died, said she’d like to see the inquest judge recommend guards in jails focus more on inmates’ wellness when doing nightly lockups and checks.
In light of her visit to the institution, she is also calling for better safeguards and systems for inmates in case of emergency.
“That was my major points that I’ve been making during the inquest.”
Beaumont said she’s hopeful the judge presiding over the inquest will call for the changes her family is recommending.
But she still has questions that she hopes are answered in the new year.
“One of my hopes still for this inquest is to be able to once and for all know what happened to my brother. Because that’s not clear yet.
“I hope that, if anything, at the end of all of this long process, that I could at least bring him some peace.”
The inquest will resume in March.