Man died from accidental suffocation during arrest: inquest

Inquest says Patrick Shand died of accidental suffocation when Loblaws workers, guard restrained him in 1999.

An inquest in Ontario has found that a man died of "accidental restraint asphyxia" when grocery store employees tried to restrain him.

Patrick Shand, 31, died in September 1999 after he was handcuffed and pinned to the ground outside a Loblaws store in Scarborough by two staff members and a private security guard.

They had followed him from their store after suspecting him of shoplifting.

Shand's family has called into question the training procedures of security guards at Loblaws and in the province.

The jury also made 22 recommendations aimed at improving training and regulation of private security in Ontario.

"This will prevent any other family from going through what we have gone through," says Shand's mother Lethel.

The Private Investigators and Security Guards Act makes no mention of the use of weapons, dogs or force when guards make arrests.

Among the recommendations:

  • amend the act to provide mandatory licensing for people hired as guards
  • provide a provincial program on the use of force, handcuffs and batons
  • annual re-certification and re-licensing of all security guards
  • training required to anyone who has the right to stop a customer including those who patrol malls, hospitals, concerts and movie theatres

Witnesses at the inquest said Shand was left handcuffed and face down for at least five minutes after he stopped breathing. His captors gave Shand CPR without removing the handcuffs.

Those restraints were not removed until Shand was loaded into an ambulance, 18 minutes after a 911 call was made.

Loblaws insists that it expressly forbids staff from using force on people suspected of shoplifting. The inquest had heard that the employees who chased Shand were unaware of the store's policy to avoid using force with shoplifters.