The family of a man who died after an altercation with correctional officers is calling for an independent investigation to be done regarding his death.
William ‘Will’ Walter Ahmo, 45, from Sagkeeng First Nation north of Winnipeg died Sunday after what’s been called “an incident” with staff at the Headingley provincial jail just outside of Winnipeg.
“My heart aches for my son Will,” said Darlene Ahmo, Will’s mother in a statement.
The altercation happened on Feb. 7, a week after an incident with correctional officers left him in hospital with life-threatening injuries.
Ahmo’s family says he shouldn’t have died and while not taking media requests, they did put out a prepared statement.
“Our story is all too common. Will should not have been in jail and should not have been made a victim of Canada’s racist justice system,” the statement said.
Will’s son Emory said his father was always there for family.
“A protector during dark times for his family. Despite his demons, and situations he endured my Dad always made an effort to love me, his son,” he said.
“My hope is that this never happens to anyone again in any institution, nobody deserves this kind of treatment. Please demand justice for my brother, our people!,” said Will’s sister Dara.
The family is also calling for those responsible for his death are held accountable.
“We will fight to ensure that the guards who did this to will, and the ones who failed to protect him, are held accountable for their actions and inactions, and we will fight to make sure that no other family has to go through what we are now going through,” said the statement.
The Southern Chiefs Organization (SCO) is also looking for answers into Ahmo’s death. SCO Grand Chief Jerry Daniels said he was angered and saddened by the death of Ahmo.
“Here we are, starting another week looking into how one our citizens has been taken from us while in the supposed care of colonial system,” a press release said.
RCMP Major Crime Services is conducting an investigation along with assistance by RCMP Forensic Identification Services and Headingley RCMP.
Ahmo’s family however says they cannot be trusted and are demanding an independent investigation be done.
“We also demand that a truly independent investigation into will’s death be conducted. Not by the Winnipeg police, the RCMP or the IIU, all of whom have shown that they cannot be trusted to ensure that justice is done.”
APTN News reached out Manitoba Justice for comment as they oversee the correctional facility.
They provided the following emailed statement.
“Manitoba Justice recognizes the seriousness of any death in custody, and are conducting an internal review of this incident. The death has been reported to the office of the chief medical examiner, as is required by law,” the emailed response said.
Sagkeeng Chief Derrick Henderson says transparency is needed in the investigation.
“We need to get some answers, I mean you know especially when someone is in custodial care you know like corrections Canada, and this happens, we need to see the transparency, we need to see exactly what happened you know. And for me that’s what it’s all about,” Henderson said in a phone interview.
He added the loss of Ahmo struck the whole community.
“I mean we lost a band member, family lost a loved one, you know and we need to get to the bottom of this. This is something we just can’t you know, lay down and just say you know what it’s just another Indigenous person gone.”
The family says their story is all too common and will do what they can to make sure another family does not have to go through what they are.