injusticebusters logo

Gordon James Severight

Coroner pronounced death of Qu'Appelle Valley man as a drowning

Gordon James Severight

Bruising from handcuffs evident, even through mortuary make-up

Gordon James Severight

Six years later, a family member who has kept these pictures is asking people to take another look. On June 21, 1997, Gordon James Severight was last seen alive in the early hours of the morning. A few hours later his body was discovered.

The revelations from the Stonechild inquiry are giving many others hope. I was told that the family of Gordon James Severight were nervous about bringing forth these pictures. While there is more confidence that allegations his death was not from natural causes will now be taken more seriously, they are nervous about having photographed the body lying in the coffin. Roman Catholics often photograph their loved ones, but Native people do not. A desire for justice overrode spiritual hesitations to produce these pictures which document the doubts which were in everyone's mind as soon as Severight's body was discovered, face down in Mission Lake, with a broken nose, grass stains on the knees of his jeans and handcuff marks clearly visible on his wrists. He had a blood alcohol content of .021

The coroner who signed the death certificate stated the cause of death as "drowning." The original newspaper report was just a few lines:

RCMP seek details in man's drowning - June, 1997

Fort Qu'Appelle RCMP are investigating the apparent drowning of a 26-year-old Regina man on Saturday.

Police have released few details, but the man was found at about 6 p.m. on Saturday after a combined search by the RCMP underwater recovery team, RCMP air services, and members of the Fort Qu'Appelle detachment.

Further information will be released after next of kin have been notified.

Severight was 26 years old.

Severight. Rhymes with Night. Time to do right.


There are other deaths which should be looked into as well. John Melenchuk has been carrying around with him a stack of newspaper clippings which contain so many injustices against Native people that he overwhelms anyone who will listen to him with the list of injustices. He has gone to Prince Albert to protest and he has protested at the Saskatoon Police station as well. This summer, he was arrested while protesting in front of the Little Chief station on Twentieth Street, the one the new mayor is so eager to close. Ironically, the arrest followed a complaint from the liquor store across the street which claimed Melenchuk's protest was interfering with their business. His case will be heard in late January. Melenchuk ran for city council and received just under 500 votes. The authorities and the media have been trying to shut him up and shut him down but he is gaining a lot of support in the community where he lives.

One of the clippings Melenchuk is carrying around regards Robin Ermine who was shot in the head at point blank range with three bullets in his own living room. August 15, 1987. Police deemed the murder not worth looking into because they said Ermine was part of "the criminal fraternity."

See also the story of Clayton Miller in Nova Scotia and compare the photos.

Gordon James Severight

FORENSIC Security Classification: PROTECTED A
LABORATORY REPORT Date: July 4, 1997
Lab File No: 97R649
THIS REPORT OR ANY OTHER RELATED Your File No: 97-1094
PHOTOGRAPHIC OR OTHER MATERIAL MAY
NOT BE PUBLISHED, IN WHOLE OR IN PART,
WITHOUT THE WRITTEN CONSENT OF THE
COMMISSIONER OF THE ROYAL CANADIAN
MOUNTED POLICE

TO: NCO i/c Fort Qu'Appelle Detachment FROM: Forensic Laboratory Regina
R.C.M. Police R.C.M. Police
Fort Qu'Appelle, Saskatchewan Regina, Saskatchewan
ATTN: Cst. R. Levesque. Toxicology Section
REFERENCE - Gordon James SEVERIGHT 71-05-29
Suspicious Death

COPIES TO:

Dr. E. Jones, Pathologist, Plains Health Centre, Regina, Sask.
Mr. Gerald Traves, Coroner, Fort Qu'Appelle, Sask.
Coroners Branch, 1874 Scarth St., Regina, Sask.

1. GENERAL The following exhibits were received from Cst. R. Levesque at the Forensic Laboratory Regina on 97-06-23:

Exhibit A: One vial of urine
Exhibit B1 to B3: three vials of urine
Exhibit C: gastric content
Exhibit D: liver

2. PURPOSE To analyze the above exhibits for the presence of common drugs (excluding alcohol).

3. DATA Blood from exhibit B2 was extracted and analyzed for common drugs or metabolites (e.g. opiates, tetrahydrocannabinol, cocaine) by gas chromatography, capillary electrophoresis, and an enzyme multiplied immunoassay technique (EMIT).

4. RESULTS No common drugs (excluding alcohol) were detected in exhibit B2.

5. REMARKS 1) Exhibit B2, blood, was transferred to K. Okamura, Alcohol Section on 97-06-24.

2) Exhibits A, B2, B3 C and D are being retained pending further advise. Kindly advise if you want the exhibits destroyed here or held for pickup (Phone (306) 780-7266, fax (306) 780-5804).


Submitted by:

J.C. Hudson, M. Sc.
i/c Toxicology Section
ROYAL CANADIAN MOUNTED POLICE


FORENSIC Security Classification: PROTECTED A
LABORATORY REPORT Date: July 7, 1997
Lab File No: 97R-0649
THIS REPORT OR ANY OTHER RELATED Your File No: 97-1094
PHOTOGRAPHIC OR OTHER MATERIAL MAY
NOT BE PUBLISHED, IN WHOLE OR IN PART,
WITHOUT THE WRITTEN CONSENT OF THE
COMMISSIONER OF THE ROYAL CANADIAN
MOUNTED POLICE

TO: NCO i/c Fort Qu'Appelle Detachment FROM: Forensic Laboratory Regina
R.C.M. Police R.C.M. Police
Fort Qu'Appelle, Saskatchewan Regina, Saskatchewan
ATTN: CST. R. LEVESQUE ALCOHOL SECTION
REFERENCE - Gordon James SEVERIGHT
Suspicious Death

COPIES TO:
Dr. E. Jones, Pathologist - Plains Health Centre, Regina, Sask.
Mr. G. Traves, Coroner - Fort Qu'Appelle, Sask.

1. GENERAL: The following exhibit was received personally from Mr. J. C. Hudson of this laboratory on 97-06-24:

Exhibit B1 - a vial of blood.

2. PURPOSE: To analyze Exhibit B1 for alcohol and similar volatile substances.

3. DATA: The analysis of Exhibit B1 consisted of gas chromatographic procedures.

4. RESULTS: Exhibit B1 contained 240 milligrams of ethyl alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood.

5. REMARKS: Exhibit B1 is being held here pending your instructions regarding disposition.

 

Submitted by:

K. O. Okamura, M. Sc.
i/c Alcohol Section
ROYAL CANADIAN MOUNTED POLICE


REGINA HEALTH DISTRICT
DEPARTMENT OF LABORATORY MEDICINE
4101 Dewdney Avenue
Regina, Saskatchewan S4T 1A5
(306) 766-2240 Fax (306) 766-2752

FINAL AUTOPSY REPORT

NAME: SEVERIGHT, Gordon AUTOPSY NO: 97-RAM-242
DOB: May 29, 1971 ADMITTED:
HIN: 286583 EXPIRED: June 21, 1997
NURSING UNIT: AUTOPSY DATE: June 22, 1997
HSN: 740199668 LOCATION: Pasqua Hospital
DOCTOR: PATHOLOGIST: E. Jones, M.D.
CORONER: Mr. Gerald Traves Reference Numbers:

ANATOMIC DIAGNOSES

DROWNING
ABRASIONS TO FACE, ARMS AND HANDS
ALCOHOL INTOXICATION

SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS

This man was pulled from a lake dead on the 21st of June 1997. The body was found lying face down.

The gross autopsy findings including redness and swelling of the face with several abrasions over the face and a fractured nose. There were abrasions over the back of the hands and the forearms. There was blood around the collar of the jacket that the body was wearing but there was no evidence of trauma or disruption of the clothing. The lungs were heavy and there was frothy reddish material throughout the tracheobronchial tree. The cut surface of the lungs was oedematous and congested. The heart was unremarkable as were the other internal organs. The brain was unremarkable. There was no evidence of skull fractures.

The autopsy findings in this case point to a diagnosis of drowning. There was evidence of trauma to the face and abrasions of the hands and arms. These injuries were of a minor nature.

E. Jones, M.D./di/jak

July 11, 1997

 

REGINA HEALTH DISTRICT
DEPARTMENT OF LABORATORY MEDICINE
4101 Dewdney Avenue
Regina, Saskatchewan S4T 1A5
(306) 766-2240 Fax (306) 766-2752

FINAL AUTOPSY REPORT

NAME: SEVERIGHT, Gordon (97-RAM-242)

CLINICAL SUMMARY
This man was apparently pulled out from the lakeshore of a lake near Fort Qu'Appelle dead. He had been found by a fisherman. He had been last seen in the early morning of the 21st of June 1997. The body found several hours later. The body was found face down.

GROSS AUTOPSY FINDINGS
The autopsy was performed at 1200 hrs on the 22nd day of June 1997 in the Pasqua Hospital Morgue. The body had an identification tag. Constable Rodney Levesque and Assistant Constable Nicole T. Cyr were in attendance as well as Sgt. Ken Bullock of the identification unit. The body had a tag over the right wrist which was an identification tag.
The body was wearing a blue jean jacket, a black "Jack Daniels" t-shirt, blue jeans, grey under shorts, white socks and Ditra runners which were black and white. There was some blood around the collar of the jean jacket and lesser amounts of staining over the back of the jean jacket. There was no evidence of trauma to the jean jacket or the other cloths. There was some grass staining around the knees of the jeans.
The body was normally developed and somewhat obese. The height was 172 cm and the weight was 100 kg.s. There was rigor mortis present in all limbs. There was no significant edema. The body was of normal color. There was abrasions over the forearms and dorsal surfaces and the hands. These measured 13 x 6 cm on the left and 7 x 20 cm on the right. There was a 20 x 2 cm abrasion over the lateral surface of the left forearm. There was a tattoo of a heart with the words "who do you love" and this was present over the left shoulder. There was a 0.8 cm half-moon indentation of the right forearm. There was a 3 cm old scar of the right second finger. There was a 3 cm old scar of the right forearm. There were numerous old scars horizontally placed over the left forearm.

HEAD AND NECK:
There was redness and abrasions over the entire face especially over the tip of the nose which appeared to be broken. There was foam in the nostrils. There was bruising on the upper and lower lips. There were abrasions over the chin and the forehead. The eyes were brown the pupils were at 3 mm. There was a pinhole puncture wound on the left upper eyelid. The nose was swollen. There was a moderate amount of sub capsular haemorrhage underlying the frontal scalp.

 

PLEURAL CAVITIES:
Unremarkable.

LUNGS:
THE RIGHT LUNG WEIGHED 600 GRAMS AND THE LEFT LUNG 550 GRAMS. On sectioning through the tracheal bronchial tree there was frothy reddish material throughout. The cut surface of the lungs was oedematous and congested. There was no pulmonary emboli.

PERICARDIUM:
Unremarkable.

HEART:
The heart weighed 450 grams. The heart chambers were unremarkable as were the valves. On dissecting the coronary arteries there was no coronary artery disease. The cut surface of the left ventricle measured 1.4 cm and the right 0.3 cm.
REGINA HEALTH DISTRICT
DEPARTMENT OF LABORATORY MEDICINE
4101 Dewdney Avenue
Regina, Saskatchewan S4T 1A5
(306) 766-2240 Fax (306) 766-2752

FINAL AUTOPSY REPORT

NAME: SEVERIGHT, Gordon (97-RAM-242)

CARDIOVASCULAR SYSTEM:
Unremarkable.

PERITONEAL CAVITY:
Unremarkable.

LIVER:
The liver weighed 1800 grams. It was unremarkable on surface and on sections.

SPLEEN:
The spleen weighed 100 grams. It was unremarkable on surface and on sections.

PANCREAS:
Unremarkable.

ADRENAL GLANDS:
Unremarkable.

KIDNEYS:
Each kidney weighed 175 grams. They had unremarkable sub capsular and cut surfaces. The pelves were unremarkable.

URINARY TRACT:
The ureters were unremarkable. The bladder was unremarkable.

GENITALIA:
The prostate was unremarkable.

BRAIN:
The brain weighed 1625 grams. The circle of Willis was unremarkable. The cut surface of the brain was unremarkable.

MUSCLES, BONES AND JOINTS:
Unremarkable. There is no evidence of skull fracture.

TOXICOLOGY:
Specimens of blood, urine, liver and stomach contents were sent with the RCMP for toxicology. Photographs were taken by the RCMP.

MICROSCOPIC EXAMINATION

LUNGS:
The section of the lung showed that the architecture is normal. There is some congestion of the vasculature. There are few bacteria present in alveoli which represent post mortem growth.

REGINA HEALTH DISTRICT
DEPARTMENT OF LABORATORY MEDICINE
4101 Dewdney Avenue
Regina, Saskatchewan S4T 1A5
(306) 766-2240 Fax (306) 766-2752

FINAL AUTOPSY REPORT

NAME: SEVERIGHT, Gordon (97-RAM-242)

HEART:
The sections of the myocardium are within entirely normal limits.

LIVER:
The sections of the liver show that the portal tracts are unremarkable. There is no significant inflammation in them. The hepatic parenchyma has a normal architecture.

SPLEEN:
The sections of the spleen show that the white pulp is unremarkable. The red pulp is also unremarkable.

PANCREAS:
The sections of the pancreas show considerable autolysis. The background architecture of the pancreas is, however, within normal limits.

ADRENAL GLANDS:
The section of the thyroid are within normal limits.

KIDNEYS:
The section of the kidneys show some degeneration of tubules consistent with autolysis. The glomeruli are unremarkable. There is some congestion of the vasculature.