- The family of a 33-year-old man whose death was in a Newfoundland jail has led to charges against nine officers is suing the provincial government.
- Six officers are still charged with criminal cases causing death; two officers are accused of manslaughter, failure to provide necessities of life.
The family of a 33-year-old man whose death was in a Newfoundland jail has led to charges against nine officers is suing the provincial government.
Jonathan Henoche’s grandmother and three siblings allege in a statement of claim filed on November. 5 in the provincial Supreme Court that the province failed in its duty to protect and care for him, among other claims.
On November 6, 2019, Henoch died at Her Majesty’s Penitentiary in St. John’s, where he had been awaiting trial for the first-degree murder of 88-year-old Regula Schule in Labrador.
His death was ruled by the province’s chief medical examiner and led to charges against 10 of the jail’s correctional officers last December. One officer subsequently dropped charges against a preliminary inquiry to determine whether the case would go to trial in August. The question is scheduled to resume on December 17.
Six officers are still charged with criminal cases causing death; two officers are accused of manslaughter, failure to provide necessities of life.
In the suit filed on November 5, Henoche’s family claims he had fetal alcohol spectrum disorder and compulsion issues, especially about women. They allege that management at Her Majesty’s Penitentiary had rules preventing him from being alone with a woman.
“This was known, or should have been widely known, to all officers and other staff,” says the statement of claim, which contains allegations that have not been proven in court. The Justice Department didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Shortly after the incident, the woman and other officer approached Henoch and physically attacked him, the family alleges. When the assault began, the officers gave a code grey, which tells prison staff that an officer is a part of an assault, the statement says.
Many people answered the alert to “support” the two officers involved in the assault, the suit alleges, adding that Henoch was eventually “escorted” out of the area and later died that day.
It alleges authorities couldn’t provide “potential lifesaving medical treatment” after Henoche was subdued and lay on the floor of a cell, shackled and handcuffed with his hands behind his back and a hood over his head. Staff “knew to have known that Mr Henoche was under stress which would lead up to his death,” it says.
The two officers who initially approached Henoche are not among those facing charges, though the suit alleges the decision to send them to “confront” Henoch “created the situation which generated the incident that resulted in Mr Henoche’s murder.”
The suit claims there is not enough training or rules at the jail around using force against inmates and caring for inmates who are hurt.
Damages include the cost of Henoche’s funeral and burial, as well as expenses related to the raising of his two children. St. John’s lawyer Bob Buckingham represented the family.
Henoch is one of at least six Newfoundland and Labrador inmates to die in provincial custody since 2017.
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