Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Prisoner alleges beating, lack of medical help

Investigation underway: RCMP

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Members of a prisoner's family have asked justice authorities for help after they say the man was assaulted by staff at Headingley Correctional Centre and then denied proper medical attention.

Jeremy Peters, 33, was allegedly beaten by guards after a verbal sparring match flared up between him and staff who were guarding him, say Peters' family members and a justice advocate.

They've appealed to RCMP and provincial Justice Minister Andrew Swan for medical care they say Peters has been denied in the two weeks since the alleged June 26 beating.

RCMP and provincial justice officials confirm they've received the complaints. The alleged assault is now the subject of a Justice Department review.

"An internal review related to this incident is underway, as is the standard procedure when a complaint is made about the treatment of an inmate," a Justice Department spokesperson said in an email.

RCMP spokesman Cpl. Miles Hiebert also confirmed the complaint and said the Mounties do not comment on investigations while they are underway.

At the time of the alleged assault, Peters was waiting for sheriffs to transport him 90 kilometres east to Milner Ridge Correctional Centre after a sentencing hearing the same day in Portage la Prairie.

Peters was convicted of theft and sentenced to 90 days in jail.

In a brief phone interview, Peters confirmed he'd taunted the guards, repeatedly asking them when the sheriffs were to arrive, when he claims he was beaten by five guards as other guards stood around them.

A spokesman for the Manitoba Government and General Employees Union, which represents correctional service guards, said the union doesn't comment on incidents under investigation.

Peters said he suspects his hand is broken but he can't persuade correctional service officials at Milner Ridge to authorize an X-ray. He said he has been seen by a doctor who offered him painkillers.

Peters is from Long Plain First Nation, located 116 kilometres east of Winnipeg. His common-law partner, Lucille Woods, and Long Plain justice advocate Peter YellowQuill said in interviews they worry the incident may have left Peters with a broken wrist.

Woods and YellowQuill state in two letters to Justice Minister Swan, which were seen by the Free Press, Peters wasn't without blame, but say there's no excuse for what the guards are alleged to have done in response.

"We are informed that the assault took place after instigation and questionable conduct by both parties. A refusal of the inmate's request to be fed seems to have been the trigger," the letter dated June 27 stated.

In the second letter, dated July 5, Woods and YellowQuill write they are suspicious there's an ulterior motive in denying the inmate an X-ray.

"Mr. Peters has the right to prompt medical attention... We feel that the doctor is stalling and providing cursory attention and is deliberately denying requests for X-rays. We are of the opinion at this time that this is to allow (for) healing and (to) protect the guards," the July 5 letter said.

Woods said she's worried about her common-law partner. She said a witness to the beating, another inmate, refuses to come forward with his account due to fear.

Peters could be left permanently handicapped as a result, Woods said.

"All they're offering is painkillers and he wants an X-ray. He can't straighten his hand and, if he tries, he says it feel like electric shots up his arm," Woods said.

alexandra.paul@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 10, 2013 A5

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