10 correctional officers charged following death of Indigenous man in N.L. jail

10 correctional officers charged following death of Indigenous man in N.L. jail

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Ten correctional officers have been charged with crimes ranging from manslaughter to criminal negligence causing death in connection with the 2019 death of an Inuk man in a St. John’s jail.

The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary announced the charges in a Tuesday news release that didn’t include the officers’ identities, when they were arrested or under what conditions they were released.

RNC Const. James Cadigan said in an interview that the correctional officers’ identities will not be released until the charges are sworn in court, which he said must happen before Feb. 11, when the 10 officers are due before a judge.

Cadigan said the 10 correctional officers were released under conditions set by police and that they have not received a bail hearing.

The charges follow the death of Jonathan Henoche, a 33-year-old Inuk man from Labrador, who died at Her Majesty’s Penitentiary on Nov. 6, 2019, after an alleged altercation with correctional officers. He had been awaiting trial on charges including first-degree murder in relation to the 2016 death of an 88-year-old woman in Labrador.

Shortly after Henoche died, police announced his death was being investigated as a homicide.

Bob Buckingham, a St. John’s lawyer representing Henoche’s family, said Tuesday it is “abhorrent” the officers have been released under police-imposed conditions and that their names have not been made public.

“I have never seen a case where one individual has been charged with manslaughter and allowed to go home, let alone a cabal of 10 correctional officers charged with the care and custody of an individual be charged like this, and not be brought to court,” he said. “It is reprehensible.”

Tuesday’s news release by police said one correctional officer is charged with manslaughter and failure to provide necessities of life; two officers are charged with manslaughter; and the remaining seven officers are charged with criminal negligence causing death.

The accused range in age from 28 to 51. Two of the officers facing criminal negligence charges are women, both in their 30s.

Since 2019, Buckingham has been calling for a public inquiry into Henoche’s death. He said the way this case is being handled brings urgency to the need for a public inquiry. The correctional officers, Buckingham said, are being afforded protections and favouritism.

Buckingham said it’s “unbelievable” the 10 officers are home under undisclosed conditions.

When asked if it was customary for people facing manslaughter charges to be released on orders to appear in court at a later date, Cadigan said it is “all within the confines of the law, based on the charges.”

Robert Hoskins, a St. John’s lawyer who had represented Henoche with Buckingham, responded to the RNC news release on Twitter: “As an aboriginal myself, it’s hard not to look at this through the lens of systemic racism,” he wrote.

Hoskins said that by not releasing the officers’ names, police are “offering extra protections that are not usually offered.”

“How many aboriginal accused persons get to have their bail hearings deferred on manslaughter charges? Or get to have their names withheld from the media?”

A spokeswoman for the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees, which represents corrections officers, said Tuesday it couldn’t comment on the case.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 22, 2020.

Sarah Smellie, The Canadian Press

Law and justice

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta recorded a single-day record of over 57,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered. (Photo courtesy Alberta Health Services Twitter)
Alberta hits daily record of COVID-19 vaccine doses administered

Central zone has administered 111,735 doses of the COVID-19

Alberta reported an additional 1,980 cases of COVID-19 Friday. (NIAID-RML via AP)
Red Deer adds 37th death from COVID-19, active cases drop

Alberta Health identified an additional 1,980 cases of the virus province-wide

Kris Sturgess with Calgary Ghostbusters. (Photo from GoFundMe)
GoFundMe account salutes Red Deer prop builder

Kris Sturgess died unexpectedly April 28

A rodeo south of Bowden drew a huge crowd on May 1 and 2, 2021. (Photo courtesy Mom’s Diner’s Facebook page)
FILE - A firefighter wears a mask as he drives his truck. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward, File
VIDEO: Flames rip through Edmonton-area seniors complex, but no fatalities

ST. ALBERT, Alta. — Fire has destroyed part of a retirement complex… Continue reading

A judge's bench is pictured at the Edmonton Law Courts building, in Edmonton, Friday, June 28, 2019. A judge has found an Edmonton woman guilty of manslaughter in the death of her five-year-old daughter. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton mother found guilty of manslaughter in death of five-year-old girl

Edmonton mother found guilty of manslaughter in death of five-year-old girl

Katie Telford is seen on a television before appearing as a witness before the House of Commons Defence committee in Ottawa, Friday May 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau aide Katie Telford questions if she could’ve done more on military misconduct

Trudeau aide Katie Telford questions if she could’ve done more on military misconduct

Rona Ambrose is shown during an interview with The Canadian Press in Ottawa, Thursday, May 18, 2017. New judges will have to commit to take training in sexual assault law, thanks to a new law that received royal assent last night. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand
Judges’ sexual assault training bill receives royal assent after clearing the Senate

Judges’ sexual assault training bill receives royal assent after clearing the Senate

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney arrives at the 2021 budget in Edmonton, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. Kenney is expected to announce this morning an arrangement allowing Alberta truckers to get vaccinated against COVID-19 in neighbouring American states. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta’s Kenney urges federal government to push U.S. for surplus COVID-19 vaccines

Alberta’s Kenney urges federal government to push U.S. for surplus COVID-19 vaccines

Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba chief public health officer, takes off his mask to speak during the province's latest COVID-19 update at the Manitoba legislature in Winnipeg on Friday, Oct. 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods
Manitoba’s top doctor questioned in church challenge of COVID-19 restrictions

Manitoba’s top doctor questioned in church challenge of COVID-19 restrictions

People line up at a COVID-19 vaccination centre, Friday, April 23, 2021 in Deux-Montagnes, Que. Canada's two biggest provinces are continuing to ramp up COVID-19 vaccinations as they report lower hospitalization figures.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Manitoba, Nova Scotia cracking down amid surge in COVID-19 cases

Manitoba, Nova Scotia cracking down amid surge in COVID-19 cases

A man watches the financial numbers on the digital ticker tape at the TMX Group in Toronto's financial district on Friday, May 9, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese
TSX up for 10th week with gain as weak jobs reports support continued easy money

TSX up for 10th week with gain as weak jobs reports support continued easy money

The Enbridge logo is shown at the company's annual meeting in Calgary on May 9, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Enbridge CEO warns of ‘bad things’ for shippers, consumers if Line 5 shut down

Enbridge CEO warns of ‘bad things’ for shippers, consumers if Line 5 shut down

Most Read