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New video shows Soleiman Faqiri calm, compliant with guards on morning of his death

A previously unseen video is casting new light on the day Soleiman Faqiri died inside an Ontario jail, showing him calm and co-operating with staff as they transferred him from a cell hours before he was violently restrained.

WARNING: This story contains graphic details

A still of an approximately minute-long video shows a group of health care staff and a jail manager moving Soleiman Faqiri in a wheelchair from one his cell in one part of the jail to a maximum segregation unit
The approximately minute-long video shows a group of health-care staff and a jail manager moving Soleiman Faqiri in a wheelchair from his cell in one part of the jail to a maximum segregation unit. Faqiri is covered with a white sheet, put into the wheelchair without incident and slowly wheeled from the area out of view of the camera.  (Ontario Ministry of the Solicitor General)

A previously unseen video is casting new light on the day Soleiman Faqiri died inside an Ontario jail, showing him calm and co-operating with staff as they transferred him from a cell hours before he was violently restrained.

Jurors at the inquest into Faqiri's death on Dec. 15, 2016 were shown the approximately minute-long video on Thursday.

In it, a group of health-care staff and a jail manager are seen in an area called 2-seg, preparing to move Faqiri in a wheelchair to a maximum segregation unit. The 30-year-old is seen covered with a white sheet, put into the wheelchair without incident and slowly wheeled from the area out of view of the camera. 

The move happened at approximately 1:10 p.m. Less than three hours later, Faqiri would be dead.

WATCH | Soleiman Faqiri appears calm as guards move him from his cell:

Soleiman Faqiri appears calm as guards move him from his cell

5 months ago
Duration 1:04
A new video entered at the Ontario inquest into the mentally-ill man's death shows correctional officers draping Faqiri in sheets before transferring him in a wheelchair to another cell seemingly without any problem. Note: there is no audio in the surveillance video.

Jurors heard from the deputy superintendent in charge of segregation at the time, Tamara Easto, who was visibly emotional as she recounted learning that Faqiri had died. 

"I didn't know how we had gone from him being moved in a wheelchair, complying with coming out of the shower, to a use of force with a tremendous response of both health-care staff and correctional staff, to him passing in his cell," Easto said as her voice broke.

"It was extremely upsetting."

Segregation head didn't oversee guards' use of force

At the time of Faqiri's death, Easto testified she was three weeks into a new position at the Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay, Ont. — and despite overseeing segregation, never received any specific training on it from Ontario's ministry for corrections, now the Ministry of the Solicitor General. 

That, she told jurors, was why instead of accompanying guards down the hallway to the cell where Faqiri was later restrained, Easto left the area and returned to her office, not knowing he'd been repeatedly struck, pepper-sprayed, covered with a spithood and shackled face-down on the floor.

Jurors have previously heard that after Faqiri was wheeled out of 2-seg, he was taken to a very cold shower area of the maximum security unit, 8-seg, where he was kept for at least an hour as some correctional staff pressed for the use of the institutional crisis intervention team (ICIT) to move Faqiri to his new cell. While that was happening, an operational manager decided to begin moving Faqiri down the hall, where he alleged Faqiri spat at him. 

Video of Faqiri's escort down that hallway was made public for the first time at the beginning of the inquest.

WATCH | Video shows final moments before Faqiri's deadly restraint: 

Inquest into Soleiman Faqiri's death reveals how and when force was used on mentally-ill man

5 months ago
Duration 3:27
WARNING: This video contains violence and some viewers may find it disturbing. CBC News has annotated surveillance video of Soleiman Faqiri's final moments to document the extent of the force correctional officers used on him before he died in a jail cell on Dec. 15, 2016. The timeline is based on an agreed statement of facts entered at the Ontario inquest into Faqiri's death, which is currently underway.

Despite being the jail's deputy of security compliance, Easto said she wasn't aware at the time that she was expected to observe and report on uses of force to flag when they might violate policy. 

As previously reported, according to the province's procedures manual for jail staff, an inmate must not be placed on their stomach while wearing a spit hood because of the risk of asphyxiation or losing oxygen. Inmates must also be "properly decontaminated" when pepper spray is used and must not be left unattended while wearing a spit hood, the policies state.

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

Asked if she would have done anything differently on the day of his death, Easto replied that she would have accompanied guards as they moved Faqiri to supervise any force applied to him.

"I would have went down to that cell," she said.

Faqiri 'tensed up' after seeing guard, jurors hear

Jurors heard from both Easto and the jail's psychologist at the time, Dr. Krystal Kelly that Faqiri had never been violent during his 11 days at the facility. 

Kelly told the inquest she thought things were going well as guards were moving Faqiri down the hall, until another guard joined the group. At that point, she said, Faqiri appeared to "tense up."

LISTEN | The latest on the inquest into the death of Soleiman Faqiri on The Current:  
In 2016, Soleiman Faqiri was being held at the Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay, Ont., awaiting trial. But 11 days after he went into custody, Faqiri, who lived with schizophrenia, died in a violent confrontation with guards. An inquest into Soleiman Faqiri's death is underway. CBC’s Shanifa Nasser walks us through the details.

It's unclear why Faqiri had the reaction he did, but Kelly said he appeared afraid. 

At that point, Kelly went into an office known as a control bubble. Outside, she could see a mattress and other items being flung into the hallway from the cell as a code blue was called — an emergency call to any available guards to assist.

Moments later, she said, a guard told her what happened to Faqiri was health-care staff's fault for not supporting their use of a crisis team. 

Both Easto and Kelly told the jury they were not in favour of activating the team, noting Faqiri had successfully been moved without it earlier that day and that it was meant as a last resort. 

Tactical 'terrifying' to someone in crisis, jurors hear

The jail's head of health care Helen Hamblin also said this week that she disagreed with using the crisis team, describing it as a group of six to eight specially trained officers clad head-to-toe in dark tactical uniforms, wearing helmets and gas masks.

"They honestly look like alien ants from another world ... It's very intimidating to anyone," she said, adding using such a team with a person in Faqiri's condition would be "absolutely terrifying to him." 

On its website, the provincial government describes ICIT teams as "responsible for controlling violent or potentially violent inmates as well as removing and escorting these inmates within the institution or transferring them to another institution."

At the time of his death, Faqiri, who suffered from schizoaffective disorder — a combination of schizophrenic and bipolar symptoms — was awaiting a medical evaluation at the Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences. He had been charged with aggravated assault, assault, and uttering threats following an altercation with a neighbour, but had not been convicted of any crime.

His cause of death, previously deemed unascertained, was later deemed to be restraint in a face-down position and injuries from his struggle with guards. 

No one was ever charged in his death.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Shanifa Nasser

Reporter-Editor

Shanifa Nasser is a journalist with CBC Toronto interested in the justice system, national security and stories with a heartbeat, with a focus on underrepresented communities. Her reporting on Canada's spy agency in 2020 earned an Amnesty International Award and an RTDNA. Her work has also been the basis of two investigative documentaries at The Fifth Estate. Contact her at: shanifa.nasser@cbc.ca

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