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:

Do you have a story tip? Email:

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

VictoriaWest Shore

Just Posted

The remains of the Mid-Island Co-op in Whiskey Creek along the Alberni Highway on Friday, June 18, after a blaze the day before devastated the gas station. (Michael Briones photo)
UDPATE: Devastation evident in aftermath of massive Whiskey Creek gas station blaze

Nine fire departments responded to the incident, no injuries reported

The BC Ferries’ website is down for the second time in one week from what they say is likely an overwhelming increase in web traffic. (Black Press Media file photo)
Surging web traffic crashes BC Ferries’ site again

Website down for second time this week

John Furlong told the Vancouver Board of Trade on Feb. 20, 2020 that he thinks the city could and should bid for the 2030 Winter Games. (CP photo)
FILE - Carolina Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind 'Amour speaks at a press conference following an NHL hockey game against the Dallas Stars in Raleigh, N.C., in this Saturday, Feb. 16, 2019, file photo. The Carolina Hurricanes have reached a three-year contract extension with coach Rod Brind’Amour after three straight playoff appearances. The Hurricanes announced the agreement Thursday, June 17, 2021, a little more than a week after the Hurricanes were eliminated by reigning Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay in the second round. (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker, File)
Campbell River’s Brind’Amour named NHL coach of the year

Former Stanley Cup winner celebrates honour by re-signing with the Carolina Hurricanes

Janice Coady, left, Aimee Chalifoux and Linda Milford at a vigil for Amy Watts on Wednesday, June 16, outside Nanaimo city hall. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
‘We need to do better,’ says mother of woman killed in Nanaimo

Vigil held for former outreach worker Amy Watts, whose body was found downtown June 3

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Wild rabbits are all over Chilliwack, but people often think they’re someone’s lost pet and try to ‘save’ them. But the owner of Chilliwack’s Reptile Room says good intentions can have bad consequences for wild animals. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Owner of Chilliwack’s Reptile Room asks people to leave wild animals in the wild

Amber Quiring says people who think they’re helping are actually doing more harm than good

Syringes prepared with Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine are seen at a vaccination site in Long Beach, Calif., Friday, March 5, 2021. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Vaccine first doses now available for walk-ins on Vancouver Island

People aged 18+ can walk in for their first COVID-19 vaccine

Thousands of protesters make their way through the downtown core during a Black Lives Matter protest in Ottawa, Friday June 5, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
MPs’ study of systemic racism in policing concludes RCMP needs new model

Chair of the House public safety committee says it’s time for a reckoning on ‘quasi-military’ structure

A case filled with packages of boneless chicken breasts is shown in a grocery store Sunday, May 10, 2020, in southeast Denver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-David Zalubowski
One million chickens euthanized during labour dispute at Quebec slaughterhouse

Premier says waste amounts to 13 per cent of the province’s chicken production thrown in the garbage

Premier of Manitoba Brian Pallister speaks at a news conference at the Manitoba Legislative Building in Winnipeg on Wednesday, April 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/David Lipnowski
Provincial leaders want more federal money for health care, plan to meet in fall

Premiers ask Ottawa to increase its share of overall health spending to 35 per cent from 22 per cent

A section of the eastern slopes of the Canadian Rockies is seen west of Cochrane, Alta., Thursday, June 17, 2021. A joint federal-provincial review has denied an application for an open-pit coal mine in Alberta’s Rocky Mountains, saying its impacts on the environment and Indigenous rights aren’t worth the economic benefits it would bring. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Panel says Grassy Mountain coal mine in Alberta Rockies not in public interest

Public hearings on the project in southern Alberta’s Crowsnest Pass region were held last fall

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on Friday, February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
U.S. border restrictions to remain in place until at least July 21

Safety minister says Canada, U.S. extending restrictions on non-essential international travel

Helen Austin performing with Trent Freeman at the 2018 Vancouver Island MusicFest. Austin is one of the many performers listed for the 2021 event.
Vancouver Island MusicFest goes virtual for 2021

Black Press to stream 25 hours of programming July 9-11

Most Read