Winnipeg judge releases video showing moments before inmate’s death

Warning: this story contains disturbing details.

A video has been released showing the altercation and moments leading to the death of an inmate at Headingley Correctional Center in February 2021.

Robert Jeffrey Morden, a correctional officer at Headingley, is charged with criminal negligence causing death and failure to provide the necessities of life in connection with the death of William Ahmo, 45, a prison inmate from Sagkeeng First . Nation.

The February 7, 2021 video shows Ahmo in a common area of ​​the prison, becoming agitated and aggressive as other inmates retreat to their cells. Ahmo remains in the common area of ​​the prison.

He is seen removing a hot water tank and television screens from the wall and using pieces of broken objects as weapons. At one point, he walks into a closet and breaks a mop in half, appearing to use it as a weapon.

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He is also seen banging a table against a protective gla*s window behind which correctional staff are standing. We hear a crisis negotiator trying to reason with Ahmo.

The standoff lasted for hours before the Correctional Emergency Response Unit, also known as CERU, intervened. The officers fired stun grenades and pepper spray in his direction. Ahmo approaches them brandishing a weapon, and the officers a*sault him and are seen hitting Ahmo with their batons.

They apprehend Ahmo and hold him face down on the ground. Ahmo is heard saying “I can’t breathe” several times, and at one point Morden asks the officers to make sure he can breathe.

During the trial, a correctional officer who testified said the words “I can’t breathe” are common among someone who has been exposed to pepper spray.

The officers eventually pulled Ahmo onto his side and began checking his pulse. He then lost consciousness and a code red was called.

Ahmo was taken to hospital but died a week later.

During the trial, a pathologist testified that the cause of death was brain damage caused by a lack of oxygen, partly caused by the manner in which he was restrained by the police officers.

The pathologist also testified that there were other contributing factors, including the fact that Ahmo was agitated and exhausted from the ordeal, the fact that pepper spray had been used, and that Ahmo had an enlarged heart and was Overweight. These are contributing factors, the pathologist said, but not the direct cause of death.

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He also said Ahmo had other cuts, abrasions and bruises on his body, but these did not contribute to his death. The court also heard that Ahmo had no medications in his system at the time, other than those administered by a medical professional. He also suffered chest fractures related to CPR, but these were not related to the cause of his death.

The trial continues.

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