10 correctional officers face criminal charges in death of Indigenous inmate in St. John’s

Jonathan Henoche, 33, was killed inside Her Majesty’s Penitentiary in St. John’s in November 2019 while awaiting trial for first-degree murder. (Facebook)

Ten correctional officers are facing criminal charges in the death of an Indigenous inmate in St. John’s, including three men charged with manslaughter.

Seven more correctional officers are facing charges of criminal negligence causing death after Jonathan Henoche, 33, was killed inside Her Majesty’s Penitentiary in St. John’s on Nov. 6, 2019.

The details of what happened at the time of his death remain sparse, but sources previously told CBC News that two guards went to Henoche’s cell and a physical altercation ensued.

Henoche was then taken to a segregated unit, and was later pronounced dead.

The names of the correctional officers are not being released, but their ages and charges are as follows:

  • 51-year-old man: manslaughter and failure to provide necessaries of life.
  • 35-year-old man: manslaughter.
  • 30-year-old man: manslaughter.
  • 44-year-old man: criminal negligence causing death.
  • 41-year-old man: criminal negligence causing death.
  • 38-year-old woman: criminal negligence causing death.
  • 36-year-old woman: criminal negligence causing death.
  • 34-year-old man: criminal negligence causing death.
  • 28-year-old man: criminal negligence causing death.
  • 28-year-old man: criminal negligence causing death.

All of the correctional officers were arrested, immediately released and given a summons to appear in court on Feb. 11. 

Lawyer Bob Buckingham tells CBC reporter Ryan Cooke he has never seen someone charged with manslaughter go home without a bail hearing 2:35

Henoche died awaiting 1st-degree murder trial

Henoche, an Inuk man from Nain, N.L., was in custody in St. John’s while awaiting a first-degree murder trial. He was accused of killing Regula Schule, 88, in 2016. 

Schule, a well-respected community leader, was found unresponsive in her Happy Valley Goose Bay, N.L., home during a fire on July 24, 2016.

Henoche was transferred to St. John’s as a precautionary measure, and was being held in protective custody at the time of his death.

A month later, the province’s chief medical examiner ruled his death was a homicide. The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary’s major case management team handled the investigation.

Three correctional officers at Her Majesty’s Penitentiary have been charged with manslaughter in relation to Henoche’s death, while seven others have been charged with negligence causing death. (Mark Quinn/CBC)

Lawyer Bob Buckingham is representing Henoche’s family members as they explore a civil suit over his death. He said the family cried tears of relief when they learned of the arrests on Monday.

On Tuesday, Buckingham told CBC News he’s pleased police noted the number of people charged, and what they are charged with.

“However, that’s the extent of my contentment with respect to this matter. The fact is this information should have been released yesterday at a minimum,” he said. “And the fact that the police waited for a day show that they responded to the public pressure that I and others put on them in the last 24 hours.”

Buckingham said the charges laid are what he expected, especially manslaughter, but the number of people charged with criminal negligence causing death is an “interesting component.”

But he said he was surprised to see those who were charged with manslaughter released.

“I’ve never seen anyone charged with murder or manslaughter and then allowed to go home. This decision reeks of favouritism within the Department of Justice,” he said. “It’s unacceptable. It looks like an effort to hide information from the press,” he said.

“Somebody in this particular case decided to make a decision to keep the names of the individuals private, and to not charge them right away, and to [not] bring them into court.”

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