Corrections officer charged in death of inmate William Ahmo: Manitoba RCMP
Manitoba RCMP have charged a corrections officer in the death of an inmate at Headingley Correctional Centre last year.
William Ahmo, 45, died in hospital on Feb. 14, 2021, after a standoff with corrections officers on Feb. 7, 2021.
Following an "extensive investigation," RCMP arrested and charged 43-year-old Robert Jeffrey Morden in his death. He has been charged with criminal negligence causing death and failing to provide the necessities of life.
The charges have not been proven in court.
RCMP said officers responded to reports of a man who was unresponsive at the correctional centre on Feb. 7 and that same day the Major Crime Services took over the investigation.
Investigators determined there was a "prolonged standoff" between correction officers and an inmate in a common area at the jail.
RCMP said the standoff ended when the correctional centre's Critical Emergency Response Team took the inmate from the area.
After being taken out of the area, investigators said the inmate, who was identified as Ahmo, became unresponsive and was taken to hospital in medical distress, where he died one week later.
The Chief Medical Examiner's Office of Manitoba said Ahmo's death was, "the result of a homicide."
In a statement from Ahmo's family, they say they are "relieved, grateful and cautiously optimistic after learning that the RCMP have charged a correctional officer."
Ahmo's mother Darlene thanked RCMP in an emailed statement, saying, "This has been an incredibly hard time for our family. Knowing that we may see the people who took Will from us held accountable gives us hope." "The RCMP has been respectful to our family through this process, and we are grateful for the professional manner that they conducted the investigation and stayed in contact with us."
The family said this is the first step in a long journey to justice and accountability, adding it will be monitoring the criminal proceedings.
"Now we want to see justice happen," said Derrick Henderson, Chief of Sagkeeng First Nation, Ahmo's home community. "Now let's wait and see what happens as it goes through the legal avenue that it has to go through now."
An internal email from Manitoba's Correctional Services Division obtained by CTV News that was sent to corrections staff in response to the charges alleges Ahmo was armed and posed a threat to staff.
"Although there was a tragic outcome, we believe staff were acting in good faith to control the critical incident," the email reads. "We recognize the impact of this tragic incident on involved staff, as well as our team more broadly, and we continue to support our staff in dealing with it."
Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Grand Chief Arlen Dumas said there have been too many deaths in correctional facilities in Manitoba.
"How many more of our First Nations people must die because of the racism encountered in these so-called correctional facilities? How can the system that prides itself on protecting people, allow for so many people to die?" he said in a statement.
Dumas said he is calling on the province, as well as Canada, to fix what is happening in prisons.
"We should not make this conversation about over-representation of First Nations people in the jail system, we should not just make this about mental health. This is about the people who are working and running these institutions who are killing our people and getting away with it. We cannot let this stand any longer," he said.
The Manitoba Government and General Employees' Union, which represents correction workers, would not comment due to the ongoing investigation.
-with files from CTV's Danton Unger
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