Altercation in correctional centre which led to Indigenous man dying caused by racism family’s lawyer says

New information has come to light about how an Indigenous inmate died in a Manitoba corrections facility, after an altercation with correctional officers in February.

According to a media report by the Winnipeg Free Press, the incident started after racist remarks made by a guard.

William Walter Ahmo was an inmate at the Headingley Correctional Centre in Manitoba who died Feb. 14, a week after an incident with correctional officers.

Details surrounding his death were scarce until now.

Corey Shefman, a lawyer working with the Ahmo family said in the report that the incident that left him in hospital was due to racist remarks made by a guard.

The media report also states a serious incident response team was called into the unit and threw stun grenades despite there not being a riot.

Shefman said the family wants charges laid against the guards, but they’re not getting their hopes up.

“The family has been clear that in their view and in my view, charges should be laid against the guards who did this to will. And we hope that the results of the criminal investigation by the RCMP reveal that,” Shefman told APTN News.

“We don’t have a whole lot of confidence that they will because charges against guards in Manitoba are almost unheard of, much like charges against police.”

Seventy-five per cent of all inmates in Manitoba jails are Indigenous according to a Statitistics Canada report, and Shefman says the family hopes the details of William’s death are released to the public to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

“You know more than one person has died in Manitoba jails each month this year. It’s disproportionately affecting Indigenous people and so we think that revealing what happened to the public is very important.”

Manitoba Justice oversees the correctional facility but told APTN that it can’t discuss the matter while it’s under investigation, and that there are no updates at this time.

Manitoba RCMP said the investigation is still ongoing.

“The RCMP cautions against premature conclusions being drawn before this investigation is complete. Speculation at this point is a disservice to all involved. This is a large and comprehensive investigation with significant pieces of evidence still outstanding,” said the spokesperson, also in an emailed statement.

Southern Chiefs’ Organization Grand Chief Jerry Daniels believes those guards involved need to be fired at the very least.

“When you’re you know violently altercation and you’ve killed a person who was your responsibility to look after, I think that’s the only outcome that should be happening here,” he said.

It is unclear when the investigation will conclude, but Shefman expects an inquest to be called into the death at some point.

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