Sagkeeng First Nation Chief demands answers after man dies following incident with Headingley jail officers

The Chief of Sagkeeng First Nation is demanding answers after a community member died following an incident involving corrections officers at Headingley Correctional Institution.

William Walter Ahmo, 45, was unresponsive and taken to hospital on Feb. 7 with “serious injuries” after an incident with the jail’s corrections officers that evening.

According to the Chief of Sagkeeng First Nation, Ahmo was in the intensive care unit at the Health Sciences Centre for a week and died Sunday night. 

“We need to know what happened. And very important that we to get to the bottom of it. Because we’ll continue to talk about these situations if nothing is done. To resolve situations like this when people are under the care of other people,” said Chief Derrick Henderson of Sagkeeng First Nation, who has been supporting the family.

He said Ahmo had been under guard by corrections officers while hospitalized. The family was not able to come to the bedside until the night he died, he added, due to COVID-19 restrictions. 

RCMP Major Crimes Unit, along with RCMP forensic identification and Headingley RCMP are investigating.

Sagkeeng First Nation Chief Derrick Henderson wants transparency in the RCMP investigation and answers about what happened to William Ahmo while in provincial custody. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

Henderson said he wants to know all the details of what happened.

“I think it’s really sad that our people are faced with these kind of situations. And the sad thing is if [people] are under the watch of correctional people and then this incident happens, you know, who’s there watching for these people when these kinds of things happen? That’s what’s really concerning right now. Very concerning.”

He said the family, who is well known in the community, is “devastated.”

“We’re talking about a human being here. We’re talking about an individual. A father, son, relative of this family. And that’s what we have to look at … We have to look at the family and the individual as a human being.”

Henderson said he and the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs are supporting the family in calling for transparency during the investigation and an inquiry into Ahmo’s death.

“The Sagkeeng First Nation Government is committed to supporting William’s family now in the time of their terrible grief and hereafter in order to ensure that all of the facts of this matter are disclosed and that justice is done,” he wrote in a statement.

Police previously said the nature of the incident is not yet clear, and that more information will be provided when it becomes available.

CBC has reached out to Manitoba Justice and RCMP for comment.

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