Days after Soleiman’s death, 15 staff (including the jail’s deputy superintendent) were suspended. Following an internal investigation by the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services (MCSCS), 2 managers (John Thompson and Dawn Roselle) were dismissed.
In a crossclaim filed in response to the province’s statement of defence, Thompson and Roselle said that their firings amounted to “scapegoating” and an attempt by the Ministry to “shift blame and attention from its failings.”
Thompson and Roselle claimed that MCSCS had failed to provide proper training on the use of handcuffs and spit hoods. For example, supervisors were not told when “handcuffs should not be engaged from the rear or when they should be removed,” and staff were not trained in “the use of spit hoods in conjunction with handcuffs.”
Additionally, the Ministry had failed to activate “properly trained staff to conduct the escort” and did not use “properly trained and independent investigators to investigate incidents” involving the use of force and “the use and dangers” of pepper spray.
Failures went beyond training, however, with the crossclaim also stating that the prison was “inadequately staffed.”
Furthermore, the crossclaim mentioned how the Ministry had failed to activate “ministry negotiators to negotiate” with Soleiman
The crossclaim also stated that MCSCS had failed to “ensure a psychiatric assessment was completed in a timely manner” by “failing to follow up with the referral made to the institutional psychiatrist and refer [Soleiman] to a Schedule 1 facility for an urgent assessment and possible treatment.”
The crossclaim even mentioned how MCSCS had refused to deploy its institutional crisis intervention team (ICIT), “which had the specific training to safely move a resisting inmate.” This was despite the fact that the ICIT team was “stationed in the corridor,” only “steps away from the incident.” The crossclaim stated that “this failure contributed directly to the fatal consequences” of Soleiman’s death.
The province responded that Thompson and Roselle were “dismissed from their employment with cause,” after the MCSCS investigation determined that they had “not acted in the course and scope of their duties.”
Furthermore, the government argued that the province had provided “reasonable training to all correctional officers and managers” and denied that Ontario was “negligent in the decision to not activate the ICIT team.”
As the Ministry and its staff continue to blame each other, they have exposed the many failures in the prison system and its treatment of mentally-ill prisoners that directly contributed to Soleiman’s death.
More than anything, this finger-pointing has revealed the failure of both the Ministry and its staff to take responsibility for Soleiman’s death.