Stanley Fischer (right) died while in a Victoria police jail cell hours after he was arrested on Nov. 15, 1981. Forty years later, his family is questioning his cause of death. (Photo courtesy of Mark Fischer)

Stanley Fischer (right) died while in a Victoria police jail cell hours after he was arrested on Nov. 15, 1981. Forty years later, his family is questioning his cause of death. (Photo courtesy of Mark Fischer)

Family wants investigation into man’s 1981 death while in Victoria police custody

Stanley Fischer’s death was ruled a suicide after he was found hanging in his jail cell

Editor’s Note: This story contains graphic subject matter.

The cause of Stanley Fischer’s Nov. 15, 1981 death while in Victoria police custody is being called into question by his family. The death was ruled a suicide and that Fischer died by asphyxiation after he was found hanging in his cell – just hours after his arrest.

His nephew, Mark Fischer, believes the cause of death was more nefarious, alleging that Stanley was possibly murdered in his jail cell before his death was staged to look like a suicide.

A coroner’s inquest found Stanley hung himself in his cell with a hand-torn strip of police-issued blanket. Mark said the blanket would’ve been impossible to rip by hand, and it would’ve needed to be cut with something.

Stanley’s brother, Richard, testified about the night of his brother’s arrest during the inquest. Richard’s sworn testimony states he was with Stanley at the Motor Colony Inn when a disagreement broke out over the wrong drinks ending up on their bill. A kerfuffle ensued, and Stanley was pinned face-down on the floor by four men and two police officers. Richard testified Stanley was then handcuffed and dragged into the back of a cruiser, where he tried to kick the window out while being repeatedly hit by officers – before one said “I’ll kill you.”

Mark claims Stanley would’ve been suffering from post traumatic stress disorder at the time, after previously serving overseas with the Royal Canadian Air Force.

READ: Greater Victoria real estate sales slow down in April

Stanley had three broken ribs, but Mark doubts they were from efforts to resuscitate him as the inquest suggests. Mark thinks his uncle could’ve been severely beaten while jailed – to the point where Stanley couldn’t breathe, possibly causing his asphyxiation death.

“There’s no documents to prove (whether) Stanley’s ribs were broken prior to his death or after,” he said.

Mark also pointed to another discrepancy from Richard’s testimony that he says raises questions. The doctor who declared Stanley dead at 4:40 a.m. said there was no sign of blood on the body. Richard testified that when he saw his brother’s body in the hospital morgue just after 6 a.m., there was blood on his cheek and forehead.

The inquest also heard that the jail guard on duty that night had neglected to do some of his check-up rounds, which Mark says would make the department liable for Stanley’s death. Another inmate testified that police denied Stanley’s repeated requests to talk to his lawyer.

“They were responsible for him, prisoners have rights,” Mark said.

Earlier this month, the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner said a misconduct complaint submitted by Mark wouldn’t be investigated because his claims lacked evidence that Victoria police officers and/or other inmates were responsible for Stanley’s death.

A Victoria police spokesperson says they’re just at the start of reviewing Mark’s concerns and they haven’t been able to respond yet, but hope to have more information in the weeks ahead.

READ: Province funds $750k to help CRD tackle toxic algae blooms in Saanich lakes

The Vancouver Island Crisis Line is available 24 hours a day at 1-888-494-3888. Crisis text services are available at 250-800-3806 between 6 and 10 p.m., seven days a week. For more local resources, go to: https://www.vicnews.com/tag/mental-health-in-greater-victoria/.


Do you have a story tip? Email: jake.romphf@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

VictoriaWest Shore

Just Posted

The Pool at the Esquimalt Rec Centre. (Courtesy of theTownship of Esquimalt/ Facebook)
Esquimalt Rec Centre restarting everyone welcome swim times later this month

The 90-minute sessions will be on select evenings and weekends

Steve Mann and Tim Hackett consider Marigold Lands their finest development. (Rendering courtesy Marigold Lands)
Marigold residences grow more townhouses and condos in Central Saanich

50 condos, 14 townhouses up next for project adjacent to Pat Bay Highway

Norman Mogensen sets up strings for his beans in his plot in the Oak Bay community gardens. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)
Oak Bay gardener spends decades cultivating, improving daddy’s beans

85-year-old vegan part of the community gardens scene

Theatre SKAM is offering mobile, pop-up performances to Greater Victoria residents once again this summer. They’ll feature emerging artists Yasmin D’Oshun, Courtney Crawford, Kaelan Bain and Kendra Bidwell (left to right). (Courtesy of Theatre SKAM)
Theatre performances can be ordered to Greater Victoria front yards this summer

Theatre SKAM offering mobile, pop-up performances once again

Diana Durrand and Arlene Nesbitt celebrate the new artist space in 2014. Gage Gallery moves this summer from Oak Bay to Bastion Square in Victoria. (Black Press Media file photo)
Gage Gallery moving to Bastion Square

Vivid Connections, a showcase by Laura Feeleus and Elizabeth Carefoot, opens new venue June 29

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Patrick O’Brien, a 75-year-old fisherman, went missing near Port Angeles Thursday evening. (Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard)
Search for lost fisherman near Victoria suspended, U.S. Coast Guard says

The 75-year-old man was reported missing Thursday evening

Most Read