Inquest into death at city jail extended

Probe into epileptic man's fatal seizure at remand centre to continue in October


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An inquest into the in-custody death of an epileptic Winnipeg man is still months away from a conclusion — one that advocates hope will result in policy changes to prevent similar deaths.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 01/03/2018 (1734 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

An inquest into the in-custody death of an epileptic Winnipeg man is still months away from a conclusion — one that advocates hope will result in policy changes to prevent similar deaths.

“This inquest in particular has exposed some really serious deficiencies in the way health care is delivered at the remand centre. We found out during this inquest that for all of the inmates in the remand centre, they only have one doctor for one hour, five times a week,” said lawyer Corey Shefman, who is representing the family of Errol Greene during the mandatory provincial court inquest.

Greene, 26, died on May 1, 2016, in the Winnipeg Remand Centre, where he was being held over a weekend after being arrested on a breach charge. He suffered two seizures, which caused fatal complications. He was allegedly denied access to his anti-seizure medication while he was in custody. That’s one of the issues the inquest aims to address and, after 15 days of testimony from corrections officers and nurses who work within the remand centre, it’s not over. An additional 10 court days have been set in October, when senior corrections officials are expected to testify.

FACEBOOK Errol Greene, seen here with his son Darien, died in custody at the Winnipeg Remand Centre on May 1, 2016, after suffering epileptic seizures.

Nurses’ testimony so far has reinforced what Greene’s widow, Rochelle Pranteau, has said all along, “which is that there was no reason for Errol Greene to be denied his medication, he should have received it. Seizures are medical emergencies and need to be treated that way,” Shefman said, outside court Wednesday afternoon.

“We’re looking forward to hearing, in October, evidence about policies and procedures at the Winnipeg Remand Centre and how they can be changed. The witnesses who have testified so far have been very helpful and we think that the inquest is going to lead to real, positive change,” he said.

Shefman said it’s his position that the inquest has shown a lack of medical resources for inmates who are being held in the remand centre. While Greene had long been managing his epilepsy with an anti-seizure medication, he didn’t have it with him when he was arrested. Nurses who were on duty before Greene died didn’t have access to the Manitoba-wide electronic system that shows each individual’s prescription medication, the inquest heard. Some nurses testified they felt they would have to wait to consult with a doctor before providing medication to an inmate.

“The nurses providing care to inmates in the Winnipeg Remand Centre don’t want their patients to die, and so, if this process shows them where there may be gaps in their practice, then that’s a good thing as well,” Shefman said.

John Hutton of the John Howard Society also has legal standing at the inquest, to represent the interests of other men in custody.

“We really wanted this to come to the light of day, and we’re certainly hearing in the inquest that there are procedures that haven’t changed since his death, that probably need to be changed. So the inquest adds that opportunity,” Hutton said Wednesday.

Greene previously had been charged with mischief and was arrested April 29, 2016, for violating his court conditions, one of which prohibited him from drinking alcohol. When the inquest began on Jan. 29, Dr. Raymond Rivera, a pathologist, testified he concluded Greene died from a cardio-respiratory failure, secondary to an epileptic seizure.

Rivera said Greene had his first seizure May 1, 2016, at 1:53 p.m., and a second one less than an hour later at 2:37 p.m. He said correctional officers handcuffed the man and took him into a cell to calm down. Twitter: @thatkatiemay

Katie May

Katie May

Katie May is a general-assignment reporter for the Free Press.

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