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Sinclair death should be ruled homicide by inquest judge: lawyer

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Brian Sinclair's death should be ruled a homicide by an inquest judge, his family's lawyers told an inquest today.

Vilko Zbogar, a lawyer representing Sinclair's family, said the death was a homicide because he was surrounded by medical staff in the Health Sciences Centre's emergency department who did nothing to help him.

"If you don't give food to a person they will die," Zbogar told provincial court Judge Tim Preston.

"If you don't give medical treatment to a person who is sick they will die.

"The inquest should make a verdict this death was a homicide."

Zbogar noted that while Winnipeg police - in a report never made public - recommended criminal charges be laid, the Crown decided not to lay charges.

"You don't need to find someone was morally blameworthy to rule homicide, you just have to find it is because of human contribution."

But lawyer Garth Smorang, representing the Manitoba Nurses union, disagreed that Sinclair's death was a homicide.

Smorang reminded the judge that the chief medical examiner had ruled years ago Sinclair's death was a "natural death".

"He (the chief medical examiner) asked the inquest to look at the circumstances of (Sinclair's death) and how to prevent it in future."

Smorang said if the judge was going to overrule the coroner on cause of death he would want to make submissions on that before the judge writes his final report.

Later outside court, Robert Sinclair - Brian's cousin - said they are still unhappy with the judge not allowing a full hearing into the racial discrimination and stereotyping they believe effected his lack of care.

"It's not the shape of the emergency room," he said.

"It's not the lack of staff. I sincerely believe it was stereotyping of a bad nature.

"We won't get the truth out if an inquest. A public inquiry more broad would be better. To make people accountable."

Sinclair said he knows what he would have done if he'd seen a person in his cousin's situation.

"As a human being, if I saw a struggling and sick person I would walk up and say "are you okay?" I'm a human.

"Why did that not happen with a trained medical staff?"

Justice Minister Andrew Swan was unavailable for comment but his staff issued a statement from him.

"It's important we let the inquest run its course," Swan said.

"We look forward to the judge's final report."

Sinclair, 45, died in Sept. 2008, after waiting 34 hours in the ER waiting room with a treatable bladder infection.

Sinclair may have died up to seven hours before he was discovered dead in the waiting room.

The inquest, which started last August, is hearing final arguments on its last day.

kevin.rollason@freepress.mb.ca

History

Updated on Thursday, June 12, 2014 at 11:25 AM CDT: Updates with comments by Smorang

12:21 PM: Adds comments from Robert Sinclair.

1:56 PM: Adds statement from Andrew Swan.

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