Former N.L. prisoner wants guards held accountable in death of Indigenous inmate

JOHN’S — A former inmate of a Newfoundland and Labrador jail says it’s outrageous that 10 guards accused in the death of an Indigenous man at the institution got to spend Christmas with their families.

Gordon Wheaton says he was in the special handling unit with Jonathan Henoche at Her Majesty’s Penitentiary in St. John’s for two days in 2018.

Wheaton says he wasn’t surprised to hear in 2019 that Henoche had died in an alleged altercation with correctional officers at the jail, nor was he surprised to learn 10 guards had been charged earlier this month in his death.

The guards’ names were not made public and the accused were released without a bail hearing, with a date set in February to appear before a judge for the first time.

Wheaton says abuse is common at the 160-year-old jail and he characterizes the atmosphere there as a fuse box ready to explode.

The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for a comment and a spokesperson for the union representing corrections officers at the jail said it could not comment at this time.

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