Prison death could have na­tional im­pact

Hines fam­ily vows to con­tinue to keep up the pres­sure

Cape Breton Post - - Front Page - BY CAPE BRE­TON POST STAFF

The fam­ily of Matthew Ryan Hines is tak­ing some com­fort in know­ing his death while in a fed­eral prison will have a na­tional im­pact on how cor­rec­tional of­fi­cers ap­ply force when deal­ing with in­mates.

“This should open their eyes so they don’t do it to an­other hu­man be­ing,” said He­len MacLeod, Hines sis­ter.

The com­ment came a day af­ter a scathing re­port slammed the use of ex­ces­sive force by corrections of­fi­cers at Dorch­ester Pen­i­ten­tiary, in New Brunswick, in deal­ing with Hines on May 26, 2015. Hines pro­nounced dead in Monc­ton hospi­tal shortly af­ter mid­night on May 27. He was 33.

The re­port, by Ivan Zinger of the of­fice of the cor­rec­tional in­ves­ti­ga­tor, con­demned how the cor­rec­tional ser­vice han­dled the sit­u­a­tion and of­fered 10 rec­om­men­da­tions for im­prove­ment.

“The lessons learned from Matthew’s death should be shared broadly across the ser­vice. Nearly ev­ery­thing that could have gone wrong in a use of force re­sponse went wrong,” said Zinger, in his re­port.

“I con­clude that Matthew’s death in fed­eral cus­tody was pre­ventable. It was prox­i­mate to mul­ti­ple uses of in­ap­pro­pri­ate force,” con­cluded Zinger.

The cause of death was de­ter­mined to be acute as­phyxia (a se­vere de­fi­cient sup­ply of oxy­gen to the body) due to ex­ten­sive pul­monary edema (ex­cess fluid in the lungs) af­ter be­ing pep­per-sprayed. Video shows corrections of­fi­cers punch­ing and knee­ing Hines in the torso, jaw and up­per body. The re­port notes that Hines was sprayed di­rectly in the face with pep­per spray mul­ti­ple times de­spite show­ing no signs of ag­gres­sion.

He was sen­tenced in Syd­ney in 2010 to serve a five-year term on charges in­clud­ing bank rob­bery. He was to be re­leased in Oc­to­ber 2015.

MacLeod said while the fam­ily takes some small com­fort in know­ing that her brother’s death could pre­vent other fam­i­lies from ex­pe­ri­enc­ing such pain, her fam­ily re­mains an­gry about how they were treated by corrections of­fi­cials and plans on keep­ing the pres­sure up to en­sure all of Zinger’s rec­om­men­da­tions are en­acted.

“We want cor­rec­tional of­fi­cers to re­ceive bet­ter train­ing, es­pe­cially when it comes to deal­ing with in­mates with men­tal health is­sues,” said MacLeod.

Hines en­tered the fed­eral sys­tem with a pre-ex­ist­ing his­tory of psy­chotic symp­toms/episodes, said Zinger in his re­port.

Dur­ing his sen­tence, he was twice ad­mit­ted to a psy­chi­atric fa­cil­ity and twice taken to hospi­tal for on­go­ing psy­chosis and seizures.

“I can­not help but to think that there were some se­ri­ous and sig­nif­i­cant gaps in in­for­ma­tion-shar­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween clin­i­cal and front-line staff,” said Zinger.

“As Matthew’s men­tal and phys­i­cal health de­te­ri­o­rated fol­low­ing the ini­tial use of force, front-line staff should have had the ex­pe­ri­ence, in­sight, knowl­edge and train­ing to have re­sponded to his needs and be­hav­iour in a life-pre­serv­ing man­ner,” wrote Zinger.

“Af­ter I first read re­port,” said MacLeod, “I was dev­as­tated and heart­bro­ken. No hu­man should be treated like that.”

She said while it helps to have the truth fi­nally come out, it brings the death of her brother back to square one, from where she and the fam­ily must again be­gin the process of heal­ing.

“For 13 months, we thought it was a seizure,” said MacLeod, not­ing prison of­fi­cials de­lib­er­ately cov­ered up what hap­pened, which added in­sult to in­jury for the fam­ily.

“It is im­por­tant the fam­ily know the truth. They needed to know and needed to know from the start,” said Hines fam­ily lawyer Julie Kirk­patrick.

Zinger was crit­i­cal of corrections for fail­ing to share in­for­ma­tion with the fam­ily and lead­ing them to be­lieve Hines died as a re­sult of a seizure.

As to where the fam­ily found its strength to keep on de­mand­ing an­swers, MacLeod sin­gles out her mother, Marg Hines.

“She re­ally spoiled Matthew and kept say­ing she needed to know the truth. She just kept call­ing every­one from the war­den to the coroner,” said MacLeod, adding the ex­pe­ri­ence has left her an­gry in know­ing that she was lied to for more than a year.

In his re­port, Zinger also noted that the cor­rec­tional ser­vice con­tin­ues to in­ves­ti­gate it­self in such in­ci­dents.

MacLeod said the time has come for the ser­vice to no longer have such au­thor­ity, not­ing the ex­am­ple in her brother’s case was a coverup.

MacLeod said the fam­ily will fol­low their mother’s ex­am­ple and con­tinue to keep the pres­sure on fed­eral of­fi­cials to en­act sig­nif­i­cant change.

She said the fam­ily will be for­ever grate­ful to Zinger for his thor­ough­ness and honesty in bring­ing the case into the pub­lic spot­light.




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