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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