Family says Stanley Cup rioter 'didn't deserve to die'
Published Saturday, February 27, 2016 12:33PM PST
Last Updated Saturday, February 27, 2016 7:13PM PST
A Stanley Cup rioter who was sentenced only a week ago mysteriously died in custody Thursday night, leaving his family looking for answers.
William Fisher, 31, was facing a three-year sentence – one of the harshest of anyone convicted – but that doesn’t mean he deserved to die, said his cousin, Carley Bakker.
“It’s an awful circumstance and it’s turned into a life sentence for all of us,” Bakker told CTV News. “It shouldn’t have ended up that way.”
Bakker said her cousin had changed a lot since the night of the riot, and was turning his life around.
“That one mistake doesn’t represent the person he was and he didn’t deserve to die so young,” she said.
Fisher had been in prison less than a week when he went into medical distress in the North Fraser Pre-Trial Centre, where he was waiting to be transferred to a federal prison.
He was taken to Royal Columbian Hospital, where federal officials technically took him into custody. That’s where he died.
Because he was transferring, Fisher’s death has sparked investigations from both the federal and provincial corrections services, as well as the RCMP and the B.C. Coroners Service.
Coroner spokesperson Barb McLintock said the agency has only had time to do a preliminary look at the case.
“There’s no suggestion it’s a suicide, and no suggestion it’s a homicide at this point,” she said, noting that leaves accidental death or natural causes.
The Pacific Institution’s deputy warden, Corinne Justason, told CTV News that the case was very unusual.
“It’s not common for us to take custody in a hospital setting,” she said. “That’s atypical, to say the least.”
Representatives from the provincial prisons did not give interviews, saying in a statement they were investigating the incident.
Fisher was sentenced on Friday for a series of attacks, including rioting, wearing a mask, vandalizing a bank, a tuxedo store, several department stores, as well as aggravated assault against Chris Leveille, a young man attempting to protect a rental car office.
Fisher was caught on video kicking Leveille in the head, and another man, Jeffrey Milne, stomped on his unconscious body. Leveille suffered a punctured lung and was off work for two months.
But the judge also found that Fisher told the court he was “caught up in the moment and associating with the wrong people. He regrets his actions and is remorseful.”
Fisher did have an alcohol and drugs problem, but since April of 2014 Fisher had been attending Narcotics Anonymous and had been sober, the judge said.
Bakker said she was willing to hire Fisher to work in her PR firm to help her cousin out. He had been attending church regularly in the past year, she added.
“He embraced God over the past few years,” she said. “He wanted to serve the sentence and put that ugly incident behind him.”