Dozens of organizations condemn OPP for no charges laid in t

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Dozens of organizations condemn OPP for no charges laid in t

Postby Thomas » Tue Aug 18, 2020 5:34 pm

Dozens of organizations condemn OPP for no charges laid in the death of a mentally ill man

More than 60 groups including legal, mental health advocacy and faith-based organizations across Canada have issued statements condemning the Ontario Provincial Police's decision this month not to lay charges in the death of Soleiman Faqiri.

Faqiri, 30, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia, was found shackled, face-down on a jail cell floor in handcuffs with a spit hood placed over his head, according to an investigation by Kawartha Lakes police.

When he was discovered by guards, Faqiri was unresponsive. A coroner's report later ound that he had more than 50 signs of "blunt impact trauma" across his body, including injuries to his neck.

s first reported by CBC News last week, the OPP decided not one of the six or more guards who allegedly beat Faqiri would be held criminally responsible for his death inside a segregation unit at the Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay, Ont. on Dec. 15, 2016.

On Friday, Yusuf Faqiri told CBC News that despite the family's anguish at the OPP's decision in his brother's death, they are heartened to see so many organizations and Canadians support them.

He says the number of organizations that have spoken out is indicative of what he calls the OPP's "failure" to serve justice, and that his family will continue call for charges to be pressed, he said.

"It says that Canadians want accountability and transparency," he said. "This isn't just about myself and my family... this is about a young man who had a mental illness who was killed within the justice system," he said

When asked about its decision at the time, the OPP told CBC News that "various possible explanations exist" for Faqiri's injuries.

"After a thorough assessment of the available evidence, it has been determined that there is no reasonable prospect of conviction on any criminal offences," the force said in its statement.

Since then, advocacy groups including the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the Schizophrenia Society of Canada have all released comments decrying the OPP's decision not to lay charges.

Public figures including Senators Peter Boehm and Kim Pate, along with MPP Rima Berns-McGown have published statements as well.

Instead of receiving appropriate treatment for his mental illness, Faqiri was brutalized, said Chris Summerville, CEO of the Schizophrenia Society of Canada in a public statement.

"People living with severe mental illness should not be placed in prisons, but rather receive the proper treatment and help in a forensic hospital," said Summerville. "We are deeply disappointed that justice has been delayed and denied for the Faqiri family," he said.

OPP's investigation prompted by coroner inquiry into death

At the time of his death, Faqiri was waiting for a mental health assessment at Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences at the time before his death.

The provincial police opened a new investigation into the case around January 2019 after the local Kawartha Lakes Police Service brought forward no charges and after the family raised questions about whether the force was far enough removed from the Lindsay jail to be objective in its investigation.

But last week, the family and their lawyers say they were told by the OPP that no one will be held responsible, as it's impossible to know who among the guards did what leading up to Faqiri's death.

"The message the OPP is sending to the world here is that if you're going to murder someone, do it in a group," lawyer Nader Hasan told CBC News earlier this month.

Along with the coroner's report that detailed many injuries, but no cause of death — the OPP's investigation contained an eyewitness account from an inmate whose cell was across from Faqiri's.

He came forward in 2018, and those details prompted the coroner's office to express concern that criminal charges should be laid, according to the family's lawyers

That witness, John Thibeault, told CBC's The Fifth Estate that a guard pressed his knee into Faqiri's neck.

"They viciously beat him to death," Thibeault said.

While the provincial correctional ministry would not provide comment this month regarding the OPP's decision not to press charges, citing an ongoing coroner's inquest, Faqiri's family is in the midst of a lawsuit against the province. They are suing for $14.3 million dollars over the "excessive force" they allege killed Faqiri.

Prior to being diagnosed with a mental illness at the age of 18, Faqiri was a straight-A student and captain of his highschool football team. He first moved to Canada from Afghanistan in 1993.

Following his diagnosis, which came after being in a car accident, Faqiri had to drop out of school at the University of Waterloo and had incidents with the law as he tried to stay on top of his medication, CBC News has previously reported.

He was charged with aggravated assault and uttering threats after allegedly attacking a neighbour in Ajax, Ont., on Dec. 4, 2016.

Instead of a mental health facility, he was taken to the jail in Lindsay and died eleven days later. ... -1.5687539
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With justice denied to Soleiman Faqiri, his family are force

Postby Thomas » Mon Oct 12, 2020 3:57 am

With justice denied to Soleiman Faqiri, his family are forced to suffer their loss over and over again

I was listening to a podcast with French sociologist Rachida Brahim called "Racism Kills Twice," when I heard the news that Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) will not charge the alleged killers of Soleiman Faqiri.

How would Faqiri's mother feel? I tried to imagine the pain of losing a son in horrible circumstances and later hearing the news that no one would be held accountable.

"Racism kills two times: first when the physical and verbal violence is exerted against the mind and body of the victim, and second when that violence or abuse is denied or not held accountable by the authority. That would leave the victim lost, without a sense of purpose," explained Brahim speaking about the double violence that she argues racialized people suffer from when they become caught in an oppressive system.

Personally, I think Faqiri was killed several times. When this 30-year-old man, diagnosed at the age of 19 with schizophrenia, was taken to the Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay, Ontario, his family thought that his troubles with the law were, as it happened a few times before, "benign," and that all he needed was mental health supervision and support.

But Faqiri was let down by the system. He died on December 15, 2016.

That tragic story could have ended with an apology, or at least some explanation. But it didn't. Due to the tremendous efforts and persistence of the brother of the deceased, Yusuf Faqiri, the family was able to dig further into the tragic circumstances of this horrible death. In 2016, in an interview with CBC, Yusuf repeatedly asked the same questions: "We want to know why my brother died," "Why did Soleiman die?" "How did Soleiman die?"

Holding up information from the family. Putting the onus on the family to find out exactly what happened before and after the death of their loved ones. These are other ways to "kill" the victim again. To deny them the rest and peace. To prevent the family from finishing their mourning. This is what the system did.

Initially, the answers were scarce. Worse, they were not given straightforwardly by the authorities to the family. They came bit by bit, through investigative journalism and legal efforts, but mainly through the family's activism.

First came the coroner report. It indicated that Soleiman Faqiri died inside a segregation cell at the detention facility following an altercation with guards. He was found with dozens of injuries, including blunt force trauma. The report mentions "obvious injuries," but the cause of the death remained "unknown." And when the family asked for accountability, their demands were left unanswered.

More disappointment came when after conducting an investigation, the Kawartha Lakes Police Service decided to not lay charges.

The decision came after years of fighting for answers, and after a nearby inmate housed just across from Soleiman's cell at the time of the incident broke his silence with an eyewitness account. The pressure built on OPP to do something.

In 2019, OPP re-opened the case and promised to conduct an independent investigation. That was received with relief and optimism by the family.

Meanwhile, the family learned more details about how Soleiman died. He was pepper-sprayed, his ankles and hands were cuffed, a "spit hood" was placed over his head and 50 signs of blunt force trauma were found all over his body. Most likely it was a group that caused Soleiman's death.

OPP buried its head under the sand and refused to lay charges. Their argument was that it was not clear who gave the fatal blow.

What logic is behind this reasoning? If we face a gang killing, or other violent assault, can we let the killers go free?

Why, when jail guards participate in the beating of a young racialized man in crisis, does it become hard to determine who gave the "fatal blow" to the victim?

By denying his family truth and justice, Soleiman Faqiri is being killed over and over.

Speaking about the case recently, Senator Peter M. Boehm called it a "travesty of justice."

Dozens of civil society and professional organizations have issued statements condemning the OPP decision. What more is expected? What more can the family and their supporters do to let Soleiman Faqiri rest in peace, and stop killing him over and over? ... s-over-and
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CMLA Statement re the Ontario Provincial Police Investigatio

Postby Thomas » Sun Oct 18, 2020 3:35 pm

CMLA Statement re the Ontario Provincial Police Investigation in the Death of Soleiman Faqiri

The Canadian Muslim Lawyers Association (“CMLA”) remains concerned by the lack of transparency regarding the specific circumstances of the tragic death of Soleiman Faqiri and calls on the Ontario government to hold a coroner’s inquest promptly.

In 2016, Mr. Faqiri entered the Central East Correctional Centre (“CECC”) in anticipation of being transferred to a mental health facility in light of his acute mental health issues. Mr.Faqiri’s circumstances demanded a high level of dignity, support, and treatment. However, shortly after his introduction to the CECC, Mr. Faqiri was killed in an altercation with multiple correctional officers. The coroner’s report describes the graphic details of his death.

This was an unacceptable outcome. The CMLA is deeply concerned about the circumstances surrounding Mr. Faqiri’s death and calls on the Ontario Provincial Police (“OPP”) and the Provincial Crown Attorney to release details of the investigation.

It is well-documented that there is a broad issue of systemic discrimination in Ontario’s correctional system, which mandates careful attention by the provincial government. Greater transparency, awareness and accountability are essential to eliminating the repeated disenfranchisement of racialized groups in this regard.

While subsection 10(4.3) of the Coroner’s Act already requires a coroner to hold an inquest when a person dies at the premises of a correctional institution, the CMLA is calling on the provincial government to conduct this inquest in a prompt and fair manner.
The inquest should ensure that the facts are elicited through a robust process best designed to expose the truth. Further, the inquest would be improved by granting party status to public interest groups with experience in assisting vulnerable and racialized individuals.
A prompt and fair inquest would result in the following outcomes, which could be of great assistance to the Province:

1. A prompt inquest will also provide the Solicitor General with a clear understanding of exactly what went wrong in this incident, with an eye towards preventing subsequent events, sooner rather than later.

2. If the inquest exposes new evidence of criminal wrongdoing, the OPP and MAG must consider reviewing their decision to not lay criminal charges.

Justice will be served by exposing the truth. ... man-faqiri
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Jail guards involved in Soleiman Faqiri’s death ignored rest

Postby Thomas » Sat Dec 19, 2020 8:39 am

Jail guards involved in Soleiman Faqiri’s death ignored restraint training guidelines, court documents reveal

Days away from the fourth anniversary of Soleiman Faqiri’s death in an Ontario jail, new court documents reveal the guards who restrained Faqiri did not follow use-of-force training outlined by the province.

The 30-year-old who struggled with schizophrenia, was in solitary confinement awaiting a mental health assessment when he died after an altercation with guards. Faqiri sustained more than 50 injuries, according to a 2017 coroner’s report.

In a deposition under oath for the Faqiri family’s ongoing lawsuit against the province, a former managing guard who was present at the time of Faqiri’s death said she would have never combined pepper spray, a spit hood and placing a person of his size on their stomach. Responding to questions from the Faqiri family’s lawyers, Dawn Roselle agreed that doing so would be a “triple threat risk of asphyxia.”

The revelations in the court documents were first reported by CBC News.

Faqiri died on Dec. 15, 2016, while in solitary confinement at the Central East Correctional Centre, a provincially run jail in Lindsay, Ont. He was awaiting a mental-health assessment to determine if he was fit to face an assault charge.

He died handcuffed in his cell after a three-hour confrontation with as many as 30 guards, during which he was pepper-sprayed, held down with leg irons and placed in a spit hood, according to a 2018 police report.

Earlier this year, the OPP closed a criminal investigation into Faqiri’s death, saying “it has been determined that there is no reasonable prospect of conviction on any criminal offences.”

In the province’s manual for use of spit hoods, which was also included in the court documents filed last week, the policy indicates that “staff must ensure that an inmate is not placed on his/her stomach, or in any position that could result in positional asphyxia while wearing the spit hood.”

The next line of the policy indicates that staff must make sure the person has been properly decontaminated if “OC spray/irritants,” also known as pepper spray, have been used.

Yusuf Faqiri is “bewildered” by how his brother’s death has been handled, especially with the mistakes presented by the examination documents. “Where is the justice? Where is the accountability?”

“Their actions caused the death of my late brother. Their actions caused my family to fight for four years,” Faqiri said in an interview with the Star. “We have not even had a chance to ... have any closure.”

Nader Hasan, a lawyer representing the Faqiri family, said the new information “is further confirmation for us that the OPP didn’t do its job.”

“If (the OPP) put in half of the effort that they were supposed to, this information would have come to light during the course of their investigation. And it would be clear that the guards were acting improperly and violating their own policies,” he continued.

The Faqiri family issued a news release after the investigation was closed saying the reason the OPP would not lay charges was because it did not know which individual guards committed which acts leading to his death.

The provincial police force had been reinvestigating the case after the Kawartha Lakes Police Service earlier also declined to lay charges.

The Ministry of the Solicitor General which oversees provincial law enforcement declined to comment on the new court documents as the matter remains before the court. Roselle’s lawyer Andrew Camman also declined to comment until the case is concluded.

Roselle was one of three guards dismissed following Faqiri’s death and is now, along with one of the other guards, countersuing the province.

Clarification — Dec. 16, 2020: This article was edited to note that the latest revelations in the court documents were first reported by CBC News. ... eveal.html ... death.html ... ts-reveal/ ... uidelines/
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Jail guards violated use-of-force policies in fatal restrain

Postby Thomas » Sat Dec 19, 2020 9:11 am

Jail guards violated use-of-force policies in fatal restraint of Soleiman Faqiri, court documents suggest

Fired sergeant acknowledges combination of tactics posed ‘triple threat’ in cutting off air supply

Shackled, pepper-sprayed, face down wearing a spit hood. Nearly four years to the day that Soleiman Faqiri died on the floor of a jail cell, newly filed court documents suggest the guards who restrained him in the final moments of his life violated the use-of-force rules set out in their training.

The 30-year-old struggled to take his final breaths as he waited behind bars for a mental health assessment at Ontario's Lindsay jail, where he was sent after allegedly stabbing a neighbour with an edged weapon during what his family has said was a schizophrenic episode.

But new court documents obtained by CBC News feature an interview with a jail sergeant at the scene that day who acknowledges the combination of tactics used against Faqiri was a "triple threat" for asphyxia — in other words, cutting off his oxygen supply.

For his family, the revelations are a reminder of a painful reality that's left them cycling through outrage, disappointment, shock and sadness since his death on Dec. 15, 2016.

"They failed to follow their own policy," said Faqiri's brother, Yusuf.

"Yet we are as far away from justice as we've been from before."

The rules for using a spit hood

Earlier this year, Ontario Provincial Police revealed the long-awaited outcome of their re-investigation of Faqiri's death. The family's lawyers say they were told that despite more than 50 signs of blunt-impact trauma deemed likely the result of restraining Faqiri, no charges would be laid because it was impossible to know which of the six or more guards involved delivered the fatal blow.

Now, a new motion filed last week as part of the family's $14.3-million lawsuit against Ontario's Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services and seven individual staff members suggests what happened that day breached Ontario's policies on the use of spit hoods — a securable fabric covering used to prevent an inmate from spitting or biting.

"Staff must ensure that an inmate is not placed on his/her stomach or in any position that could result in positional asphyxia while wearing the spit hood," says a copy of Ontario's policy and procedures manual for jail staff contained in the documents.

It also says an inmate must be "properly decontaminated" when pepper spray is used, and staff must ensure an inmate "is never left unattended while wearing the spit hood."

At least two of those policies appear to have been violated in Faqiri's case.

The manual also says any staff who might use or supervise the use of a spit hood must be trained to do so.

The filings also reveal the specific brand of spit hood used on Faqiri before his death, featuring the following warning label on the packaging:

"Warning: Improper use of TranZport Hood can cause injury or death," the label reads. "Improper use may cause asphyxiation, suffocation or drowning in one's own fluids."

Province previously denied 'unauthorized force' used

In response to the family's lawsuit, the province filed a statement of defence last year, denying any of its staff used "unauthorized force" against Faqiri or that its "servants or agents were aware that their actions would lead to Mr. Faqiri's injuries."

Asked last week if the province stood by its claim that no unauthorized force was used or that staff were not aware of the possible consequences of their actions, the Ministry of the Solicitor General declined to comment, saying the case remains before the courts.

'A triple threat of asphyxia'

But in a formal examination under oath earlier this year, Dawn Roselle, one of two jail managers fired following Faqiri's death, suggests guards should have known they might be cutting off his air supply.

"You would never combine the use of pepper spray with a spit hood [while] on one's stomach, right?" the family's lawyer Edward Marrocco asks Roselle in the examination.

"I would never combine that," Roselle responds, indicating she wasn't aware Faqiri was in a spit hood or that he'd been pepper-sprayed.

"OK, and the reason you don't do that is because that would be basically a triple threat of asphyxia," Marrocco continues.

"Absolutely," replies Roselle.

Roselle says she arrived at Faqiri's cell while the altercation with a group of guards was in progress, and two acting managers were already on scene at the time. Despite being a full-time manager, she says she "took on a secondary role because there was a lot of response."

Roselle says she was among the last to leave Faqiri's cell, after he'd been positioned face down on the cell floor and cuffed behind his back. She says she stayed by the door and kept an eye on Faqiri.

After about a minute, Roselle says, she noticed he wasn't moving. Guards went back into the cell and removed Faqiri's restraints and turned him over onto his back.

It was then that Roselle says she noticed — for the first time — the spit hood, which appeared to be filled with fluid, possibly vomit. By that point, she says, she had radioed for medical help and called for a crash cart with emergency supplies.

Fired managers 'scapegoated,' lawyer says

The specifics around Roselle's firing have not been publicly disclosed. The family's lawyers have asked for details of her termination, but nearly nine months after her interview, have still not received them.

"The most substantial allegation is that she did not attend the inmate Faqiri after she had placed him in handcuffs behind his back," Roselle's lawyer, Andrew Camman, says in the interview transcript.

The province has claimed in court documents that Roselle and another manager fired after Faqiri's death did not act "in the course and scope of their duties."

In an email to CBC News, Camman said: "We will let the process determine where the real culpability in this matter lies. My clients have been scapegoated by [their] employer for their heroic efforts to avert the tragic results in this incident."

The combination of being face down, wearing a spit hood and potentially vomiting is something use-of-force expert and former Ontario Police College instructor Michael Burgess says could create "the perfect storm" of factors leading to death.

"There's a number of things that we've learned over the last 40 or 50 years about asphyxia. One of the major lessons initially learned is never to leave a prisoner face down on the ground in handcuffs any longer than you absolutely have to," he told CBC News.

"Any amount of weight that this person is carrying up front is going to end up inside the body cavity, compressing the diaphragm, the lungs, and restricting his ability to breathe," he said.

Add to that guards on top of someone and vomit accumulating in a spit hood, and the risk is that much greater, he said.

'A void that hasn't gone away'

Ahead of the four-year anniversary of Faqiri's death, his brother says he's confounded by the fact that no one has ever been charged in his death.

"This was a Canadian, a vulnerable man who lost his life at the very institution that was supposed to take care of him," Yusuf said. "They didn't just fail the Faqiri family, they failed every Canadian who's suffering from mental illness."

As time marches on, Yusuf said he finds his own oxygen in advocating for his brother and joining with other families who have lost loved ones with mental illness.

But the loss remains.

"It's a void that hasn't gone away. And I don't think it'll ever go away." ... -1.5836961
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Ontario's chief pathologist determines what killed Soleiman

Postby Thomas » Wed Aug 11, 2021 4:09 am

Ontario's chief pathologist determines what killed Soleiman Faqiri — 5 years after he died behind bars

Five years after Soleiman Faqiri died on the floor of an Ontario jail — shackled, pepper-sprayed and face down with his head covered — the province's chief forensic pathologist has determined just what killed him.

It's the answer to a question his family has been asking for years, only to be told again and again there was no way of knowing how the 30-year-old with schizophrenia died behind bars as he awaited transfer to a medical facility.

Until now.

Faqiri's official cause of death, as found by Dr. Michael Pollanen: "Prone position restraint and musculocutaneous injuries sustained during struggle, exertion and pepper spray exposure" in a person with an enlarged heart and worsening schizophrenia.

In other words, Faqiri's death was the result of being held face down on his stomach and the injuries he suffered while being physically restrained and repeatedly struck by a group of at least six guards at the Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay, Ont., in 2016.

"Multiple musculocutaneous injuries were present due to blunt trauma caused by some combination of correctional officers striking Soleiman Faqiri, or his body hitting the ground or stationary objects during a violent struggle with the correctional officers," Pollanen said in a peer-reviewed forensic pathology review report dated Aug. 5.

"None of the injuries were individually fatal," Pollanen said in the report. "But, in combination, the injuries were a significant contributing factor in death."

Case referred back to provincial police, lawyers say

It's a grim conclusion but one his family can find some measure of peace in after years of anguish over a truth they've believed in all along.

"At the end of the day, is there relief? Yes and no. Soli is gone, he's not coming back and a part of my family died that day," Faqiri's brother, Yusuf, told CBC News. "But what this report does effectively is what should have been done five years ago."

Their one hope now is for criminal charges against the guards involved in Faqiri's death and for his case to serve as an example so that no family has to lose a loved one with mental illness this way again.

As a result of the chief pathologist's report, the case has been referred back to the Ontario Provincial Police, meaning criminal charges could possibly be back on the table, the family's lawyers say.

Two previous criminal investigations — by the Kawartha Lakes Police Service and the OPP, respectively — resulted in no charges being laid against any of the guards involved.

'There is no mystery remaining'

"We now know that Soleiman Faqiri was killed with a lethal combination of excessive force," said Edward Marrocco, one of the lawyers representing the family.

"There is no justification for what was done to him. There is no training that authorizes correctional officers to use this kind of violence. Pollanen has drawn a direct connection between the brutality Soleiman endured from the guards and the death of his body. There is no mystery remaining in the killing of Soleiman Faqiri."

Faqiri — or "Soli," as his family knew him — had been a straight-A student and captain of his high school football team. But his life took a turn when he was diagnosed with schizophrenia at 18 after a car accident. Over the years, he was repeatedly taken into custody under the province's Mental Health Act, but had no criminal record.

Pollanen's finding comes just months after the lead pathologist announced a review into Faqiri's death.

According to the family's lawyers, it also replaces the finding of the original 2017 forensic pathology report by Dr. Magdaleni Bellis, which found Faqiri's cause of death could not be determined — or was "unascertained."

The move to review the case followed less than a year after court documents emerged suggesting jail guards violated their use-of-force policies when they restrained Faqiri.

In a formal examination provided under oath, Dawn Roselle, one of two jail managers fired after Faqiri's death, said she would never have knowingly combined the use of pepper-spray and a spit hood with restraining someone on their stomach.

The province has claimed in court documents that Roselle and another manager fired after Faqiri's death did not act "in the course and scope of their duties." Their lawyer previously told CBC News his clients were being "scapegoated" by the province.

It also comes more than two years after The Fifth Estate spoke exclusively with an inmate whose cell was directly across from Faqiri's segregation unit, and whose eyewitness account never factored into the original post-mortem report.

'We call on you to do your job'

In his report, Pollanen confirms he took into account a statement from an inmate along with those of correctional officers, examined autopsy and lab results, medical history, video footage from inside the jail, the spit hood covering Faqiri in his final moments and the cell where Faqiri took his final breath.

Pollanen does note that the science behind how someone might die in a face-down position is "not entirely settled in forensic medicine," and that other pathologists could hold different opinions on how to frame the "bottom line" cause of his death.

Still, with the long-awaited revelation of cause of death, Faqiri's family now holds out hope that someone will be held accountable and are cautiously optimistic that the OPP will lay charges.

"To the Ontario Provincial Police — we call on you to do your job," said Yusuf. "Prove to us that the system doesn't protect correctional officers when they break the law."

In a statement to CBC News, OPP Sgt. Kerry Schmidt confirmed the force has received the new report and is currently reviewing it, but could not comment on any specifics "to preserve the integrity of any ensuing court processes."

"The OPP sincerely sympathize with the Faqiri family as they have suffered great personal loss."

Lawyer, justice critic call for accountability

Lawyer Clayton Ruby, who has spent decades working in the criminal justice system, told CBC News the report by the province's chief pathologist demands accountability — particularly as it involves jail guards who have a legal obligation to safeguard an inmate's well-being.

Still, he says he has no confidence in the OPP to bring charges against those involved.

"We don't accept when a group of men attacks someone who is helpless and kills them that they get to say, 'I didn't strike the final blow.' In fact they would all be participating and they would all be charged … but there seems to be a special rule for police and jail guards," he said.

"And that's a corrupt, unacceptable use of a justice system."

Ontario's New Democratic Party justice critic Gurratan Singh issued a statement about the report, calling it "a step forward in the quest for justice, but true justice would be for Soleiman to be alive today."

"In light of this report, the death of Soleiman Faqiri must be re-investigated and anyone found responsible must be held accountable," he said. "Ontarians also deserve systemic change in the criminal justice system to ensure that people experiencing mental illness get help, not violence."

Union 'welcomes review' of ministry policies

A spokesperson for the Ministry of the Solicitor General said it could not comment on the report.

"As this matter remains before the court and there is a pending coroner's inquest it would not appropriate for the ministry to provide public comment," said Brent Ross.

In a statement to CBC News, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) that represents Ontario correctional officers, said the report is "long overdue" and that it "welcomes the review of the policies and procedures of the ministry."

"Correctional officers in Ontario are professionals, called upon to handle difficult, often dangerous situations often without proper supports on a daily basis, particularly as the number of inmates with mental illness grows," the union said.

It noted it would "vigorously support its members through any further investigations, and will continue to call on the Ministry to focus solutions to the root causes of violence in our correctional system."

"The death of Mr. Faqiri is an absolute tragedy, and one that need never have happened," the statement said.

A $14.3-million lawsuit filed by the family against the ministry and seven individual jail staff members remains before the courts. ... -1.6135673 ... -of-death/
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Correctional abuse exposed yet again

Postby Thomas » Sun Aug 15, 2021 1:50 pm

Soleiman Faqiri struggled with schizophrenia for 11 years. A 10-minute struggle with Ontario jail guards killed him.

Five years after his death, Ontario’s chief pathologist Dr. Michael Pollanen has finally made that clear: his death was caused by guards at the Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay.

“The impaired respiratory function would be significant in the extreme conditions to which Soleiman Faqiri was exposed,” Pollanen wrote in his report, publicly released this week.

And just what were those extreme conditions? He was repeatedly hit and kicked by guards at the Lindsay jail. He was pepper-sprayed, twice. He was pinned face down on the floor with a spit hood on. His legs were shackled. His arms handcuffed behind his back.

Those details have been known for years. But someone has finally put the pieces together and concluded that his treatment at the hands of guards led to his brain being starved of oxygen, a fatal abnormal heartbeat, or both.

His death was not, as the first coroner’s report concluded, from “unascertained” causes.

Faqiri’s family has fought for years to get to this point. But now what? Based on the report’s conclusion, the coroner’s office has turned the case over to the Ontario Provincial Police to investigate.

This is the third time a police investigation has been ordered into this man’s death. This one had better be comprehensive.

Correctional officers hold incredible power over citizens when they are at their most vulnerable. If they don’t maintain the highest standards, including following use-of-force rules, they should be held accountable.

Faqiri’s family wants to see criminal charges laid and that’s understandable. But even if that were to happen, and despite this new report it still may not be, that can’t be the end of this incident.

On their own, criminal charges won’t be enough to stop something similar from happening again.

Solitary confinement — where Faqiri was being held while waiting for a mental health assessment — is no place for anyone suffering from a mental illness. We know that. Everyone involved in correctional services and in government knows that. It’s impossible not to know given how many coroner’s inquests, reports and reviews have explained it after a tragic death, like Faqiri’s, has occurred. And yet it keeps happening.

In a landmark 2013 settlement, Ontario acknowledged the terrible harm caused by solitary confinement — 22 hours or more a day in a six-by-nine-foot cell. It committed to banning solitary for inmates with mental illnesses, except as a rare last resort, and imposing a 15-day limit for everyone else.

But the province has not lived up to those basic and necessary obligations.

Solitary confinement is still vastly overused to put troubled inmates out of sight and out of mind, or as a way to maintain security in the face of understaffing or lack of mental-health care inside prisons.

Ontario’s highest court has said solitary is an outrage to “standards of decency and amounts to cruel and unusual treatment.”

Faqiri was held in solitary for days as his schizophrenia symptoms were clearly getting worse. He needed help, but that’s not what he got from his guards or the jail.

As Faqiri’s brother Yusuf said, the chief pathologist’s decision to review his case marks “the first time any government institution had any interest in finding out what really happened to my late brother.”

The family forced this to happen through their unwillingness to give up in the face of bureaucratic and government indifference.

They can’t do more than they have. But the OPP, correctional services and provincial authorities can — and must. ... again.html
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Neve and Mazigh: Five years of injustice for Soleiman Faqiri

Postby Thomas » Fri Dec 24, 2021 3:42 am

Neve and Mazigh: Five years of injustice for Soleiman Faqiri must end

Just over five years ago, on Dec. 15, 2016, Soleiman Faqiri died after being held in solitary confinement for 11 days at the Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay, Ont. He was 30 years old.

He had more than 50 bruises and other injuries over his body, including his wrists, ankles and neck. He had been beaten and kicked repeatedly and was twice pepper-sprayed in the face. He was wearing what is known as a spit hood over his head. His legs were shackled, and his hands were cuffed behind his back. He was lying prone, face down on the floor of his cell when he died. All in about 12 minutes.

This violence was meted out by six prison guards. In fact, because of the number of guards involved, police investigators said they were unable to determine whether any of them should be held criminally responsible.

As they mark the fifth anniversary of Soleiman’s death, his family remains trapped in an agonizing limbo of no answers and no accountability. No family should have to endure that. Nothing less than Canada’s international human rights obligations requires full justice.

Soleiman came to Canada with his parents, three brothers and a sister more than 20 years earlier, as refugees from Afghanistan. He excelled in school, was a star rugby player and was studying engineering at the University of Waterloo when he began, at the age of 19, to suffer from schizophrenia following a head injury suffered during a car accident.

Soleiman was surrounded by a loving family, but it was still an immense challenge ensuring that he received the mental health support he required.

On Dec. 4, 2016, he was arrested on charges of assault and uttering threats. He was taken to the correctional centre and held in segregation. Over the 11 days that followed, as Soleiman’s psychological state deteriorated, his family sought four times to visit him and bring his medication and health records. They were refused.

A decision was eventually made to transfer Soleiman to a mental health facility. But that came too late. He never made it to the institution where he would have received appropriate medical treatment.

The journey since then for Soleiman’s family has been impossible to believe. His brother Yusuf shared their deep anguish in a Globe and Mail opinion piece earlier this fall. Soleiman’s mother has summed up their devastating pain by noting that “it took them 11 days to destroy what we built in 11 years,” referring to the progress the family had been making in treating his mental health.

The first autopsy concluded that the cause of death was “unascertained”. On that basis, a local police investigation into the case was closed.

After a witness, John Thibeault, came forward — a man who had been in the cell opposite Soleiman — the case was reopened by the coroner’s office in 2019. Thibeault had been reluctant to provide evidence until he was out of prison, fearful of retribution. The reopened investigation was assigned to the Ontario Provincial Police, but was later shut down.

Soleiman’s family, supporters and human rights, mental health and prisoner advocacy groups did not relent. They maintained pressure and earlier this year Ontario’s top pathologist, Michael Pollanen, conducted a review of the initial autopsy. Dr. Pollanen concluded that Soleiman died as a result of his treatment at the hands of the guards. The case has been returned to the Ontario Provincial Police for another criminal investigation. There will also be a Coroner’s Inquest sometime next year.

In life, Soleiman Faqiri’s rights were clearly violated. His right to receive the mental health treatment he required. His right not to be held in extended solitary confinement. His right not to be subjected to the frenzy of violent treatment at the hands of the multiple guards who restrained him, and which led to his death.

Those human rights violations have continued over the five years since his death. Numerous international human rights instruments, including the UN’s Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (“Mandela Rules”), the Convention against Torture, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights all lay out clear obligations around independent investigations of a prisoner’s death and allegations of torture and ill-treatment, and for there to be accountability and effective remedies for human rights violations.

These five years of justice delayed are a glaring instance of justice denied. It must end now. That is owed to Soleiman and his family, and to all of us. Impunity undermines all of our rights. Justice is in our collective interest. ... i-must-end
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