Christmas Eve beating at Edmonton Remand Centre leaves 1 inmate dead
AUPE president says inadequate staffing putting inmates at risk.
Homicide detectives are investigating a death at the Edmonton Remand Centre on Christmas Eve.
Curtis Dale Hill, 34, was beaten and killed in a cell at the facility.
Police say paramedics were called but Hill was pronounced dead at the scene.
The incident was recorded on surveillance video, said Staff Sgt. Bill Clark.
Clark said Hill had a lengthy list of offences, including multiple armed robberies, assault on a police officer and uttering threats.
He was in the remand centre after he was denied bail on violent charges.
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At the time of his death, Hill was part of the High Risk Offender Program.
His lawyer, Shamsher Kothari, said Hill was supposed to be held at the Southern Alberta Forensic Psychiatric Centre (SAFPC), a facility he said has been known in the past to be at capacity.
"I am gravely concerned as to why my client was moved to this facility when there was a Court Order from the Court of Queens Bench to have him housed at the SAFPC," Kothari said.
"I will be looking into this matter personally and I eagerly await any investigative results."
An autopsy has been scheduled for Friday morning.
Remand Centre year in review
This is the first time an inmate has been killed at the new Edmonton Remand Centre.
In April, prison guards across Alberta walked off the job illegally in a labour dispute that began over safety concerns at the facility.
At that time, jail guards warned that someone would die at the new remand centre if safety protocols were not changed.
Alberta Union of Provincial Employees president Guy Smith said guard and inmate safety came up during talks with then deputy premier Thomas Lukaszuk during the guards' wildcat strike.
“It was certainly on the list when we met with him during the wildcat strike,” he said. “The number one safety issue was staffing levels. I know I've heard from officers who work at the new remand centre that were predicting that there would be a death within a year.”
Smith said the facility has three guards for every 72 inmates, spread across three separate levels. He’d like to see that number doubled.
“There's always been concern about safety of these inmates, and obviously safety of the officers, because of the staffing levels... Could this situation have been avoided with proper staffing? I mean, who knows, there's going to have to be an investigation. Certainly the staffing levels have been a concern even before the new remand opened.”
The government forced guards back to work with a court order, which included heavy fines for the union and the province also fired some of the employees.
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Earlier in December, police were called to the facility when an inmate in the maximum security pod took his cellmate hostage after demands to speak to his lawyer were not met.
The inmate used a broken broomstick as a weapon during the standoff.
No corrections workers were injured in that incident.
With files from The Canadian Press