Senior corrections officer made call to shackle Errol Greene during seizures, inquest told
'It was my decision': Corrections officer Angela Banks says she called 911 after 2nd seizure
Corrections officer Angela Banks told the inquest into the death of Errol Greene that it was her decision to handcuff and shackle the man after he suffered two seizures at the Winnipeg Remand Centre, where he died on May 1, 2016.
Banks, the senior officer working at the centre the day Greene died, spoke at the inquiry into his death on Wednesday, the inquest's third day.
Banks said that on the day Greene died, she heard screaming as she got off the elevator on the fourth floor of the centre after responding to a Code Red — a medical emergency.
She entered the area where the inmates are kept, and told the inquest she saw Errol Greene thrashing around near the phones, apparently trying to punch the other corrections officers.
Banks testified the officers were trying to calm Greene down, telling him that medical help was on the way.
"He appeared to be fighting with staff once again," she said.
Medication was recommended
Banks said she made the call to put handcuffs and shackles on Greene.
"It was my decision to handcuff and shackle him," she said. "We still don't know [at that point] if he's fighting or if he's having a seizure."
The guards carried Greene to a cell, placed him on a mattress and removed his restraints.
One of the medical staff asked about moving Greene to the medical ward, but Banks said he was too dangerous and the decision was made to leave him in the cell, with a guard posted to watch him.
The medical manager recommended giving Greene seizure medication but didn't feel comfortable going into the cell because Greene was fighting, Banks said.
"I said we wouldn't be putting any medication in the inmate's mouth either," Banks said.
Banks has 23 years of experience as a corrections officer, and worked her way up through the ranks at the Remand Centre, eventually reaching the position of shift operations manager. Over the course of her career, Banks estimates she has seen hundreds of seizures, she told the inquest.
Paramedics arrived 'extremely quickly'
Greene was taken to the Remand Centre after being arrested on April 29, 2016. The 26-year-old suffered from epilepsy and the inquest was told earlier this week he last took his medication the morning of April 29.
On Wednesday, Banks told the inquest that after Greene suffered the first seizure on May 1, Remand Centre staff left him alone in the cell, believing he would calm down, and a guard was assigned to watch him.
About 20 minutes later, the guard watching Greene called a Code Red. Greene was having another seizure.
Banks said when she arrived again on the scene, she saw corrections officers trying to hold Greene's limbs and heard him yelling "incoherently."
"I can hear one of the staff members saying, 'Stop trying to bite me, stop resisting,'" she told the inquest.
Banks said she once again made the call to place restraints on Greene. This time, the corrections officers flipped Greene onto his stomach and one of the medical staff injected Ativan — an anti-anxiety medication sometimes used to treat active seizures — into Greene's buttocks.
The medical manager recommended calling an ambulance, which Banks said she did at 2:45 p.m., eight minutes after responding to the second Code Red.
Paramedics arrived "extremely quickly," Banks said. After they arrived, Banks said none of them mentioned anything about Greene being restrained, or asked that the restraints be removed.
Eventually, Greene stopped thrashing and Banks heard one of the paramedics saying they were beginning CPR. At that point, Banks said the restraints were removed.
Greene was taken to hospital in an ambulance, but died hours later.
When Banks held a debrief with staff after the incident, she said their main concern was that they handcuffed Greene during his seizures. She said she assured them it was her call.
Crown counsel Keith Eyrikson asked Banks if she thought staff used appropriate force when responding to the call.
"Do you think you made the right decision?" he asked.
"Absolutely," she replied.
The inquest continues Thursday. Testimony is expected to last 15 days.
With files from Jillian Taylor