About four dozen people gathered on a lawn on Chalmers Avenue in east Elmwood Tuesday evening for a vigil commemorating Michael Dano, a 32-year-old man who the family says died under suspicious circumstances last week.
Dano died at St. Boniface Hospital Aug. 5 and his death has been classified as a suicide.
But Dano’s parents, Earl and Wanda Dano, have sent letters to the Winnipeg Police Service, Chief Medical Examiner’s office and St. Boniface Hospital, requesting further investigation after they say they saw his entire body covered in cuts and bruises.
"There’s no way on God’s green Earth he committed suicide," Earl said during the vigil.
He later told the Free Press that police and the coroner have been reluctant to give information, but added he was told Dano had choked on his own vomit and that was ultimately how he died.
"We’re sort of stuck," WPS Const. Rob Carver said earlier Tuesday.
"Assuming we’re accurate in what we have presented is a suicide, then that makes it a medical issue, and we’re really constricted in what we can say legally."
Carver added police are certain Dano took his own life, but could not go on record to disclose how that conclusion was made.
"I understand the family’s questions," he said. "I think, as they get more information from the medical examiner’s office, that will be cleared up.
"The answers have to come from them, not from us."
The Free Press contacted the Chief Medical Examiner’s office and St. Boniface Hospital but neither replied before deadline.
Earl said he and his wife last spoke to Dano at 9:12 p.m. the night before he died. He told his mother he loved her.
At 2:30 a.m., they were woken up by two WPS officers knocking on the door, saying Dano was in critical condition and they had to go to the hospital.
Dano was a construction worker, fisherman and a certified firefighter. Family who spoke at the vigil said he was gentle, called home often, and regularly expressed his love for others.
Dano was one of more than 7,000 Manitobans displaced from their homes due to a massive flood in Lake St. Martin in 2011. He was set to move back home in December.
"He wanted to go home so bad," Earl said. "Yes, he’s going home. But he’s going home in a box."