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Police in Belize investigating death of Calgary man
Published Thursday, January 31, 2013 5:24PM MST
Last Updated Friday, February 1, 2013 12:51PM MST
Officers in Belize are investigating the death of a Calgary man amid allegations of police wrongdoing.
According to a statement on the San Ignacio Police website, 35-year-old Jeffrey Furgala was detained by police on Saturday night for being intoxicated in public. On Sunday morning, officials went to check on Furgala in his cell. Furgala was found unconscious with blood trickling from his nose.
Witnesses in other cells say they heard a loud noise like someone had fallen.
The Calgarian was transported to a community hospital in critical condition. Furgala was moved to a larger hospital for emergency surgery.
Furgala was pronounced dead on Tuesday.
Patrick Jones, a news producer in Belize, has been covering the story of Furgala's death. Jones says there have been a number of incidents involving persons in police custody before in this town which is why there is some suspicion around Furgala's case.
"The thing though that is hard for the police to beat is that in the last year alone there are no less than six incidents where a person has died while in custody of the state," says Jones. "So when word came out that a Canadian gentleman was found dead on Sunday morning that was the first thing that went through the minds of people here."
Jeffrey Furgala’s friends are shocked by the death of the charismatic 35-year-old. Furgala was a father and was actively involved in Calgary’s martial arts community.
“He was extremely caring,” says Troy Aulenback, a friend of Furgala’s. “I know he has a little boy and he was amazing with him. Just all around, he was a great guy."
Furgala was in Belize on a working holiday.
According to Chrystian Roy, spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, Canadian consulate officials are in Belize and have made contact with local authorities and are assisting Furgala’s family.
The Commissioner of Police has since launched a Criminal and Internal Investigation into the events surrounding Furgala’s death.
An autopsy into Furgala's death will be conducted in the next few days.