Man alleges negligence after beating at Regina jail

Shayne Tabor went to the Regina Correctional Centre to serve six months in minimum security. He says he came out unemployable, with brain damage, and severe injuries to his skull, back and shoulders.

Shayne Tabor says he's unemployable due to injuries sustained in custody

Shayne Tabor alleges Regina Correctional Centre and the Ministry of Justice were negligent and failed to protect him from another inmate. (CBC)

A former Regina Correctional Centre inmate is suing Saskatchewan Justice and the jail for negligence and a breach of fiduciary duty, alleging he suffered brain damage and severe injuries after another detainee beat him.

The government has got a duty that if someone is incarcerated that they look after them.- Tavengwa Runyowa, lawyer

​Shayne Tabor was convicted of break-and-enter in 2015. He began serving a six-month sentence in a low-risk unit at the Regina Correctional Centre in June of that year.

According to court documents obtained by CBC News, on Oct. 4, 2015, Tabor was standing outside his cell when he was allegedly attacked by his former cellmate, Alan Boyd Pasap.

Pasap was serving time after his second aggravated assault conviction. 

Allegedly punched, kicked, stomped

Shayne Tabor alleges he was left with permanent injuries after being beaten by another inmate. (Submitted by Shayne Tabor)
Pasap allegedly demanded 45-year-old Tabor's canteen ration, which he refused to hand over. As Tabor turned to walk away, Pasap allegedly struck the back of his head. Tabor remembered being punched, kicked and stomped until he was unconscious on the floor.

Tabor claimed jail guards were nowhere to be seen during the assault. A statement of defence filed by Saskatchewan Justice lawyers says guards broke up the fight, noting the "altercation was brief and lasted approximately 14 seconds."

In his claim, Tabor alleges jail guards aggravated his injuries by forcing him to walk down a set of stairs before taking him for medical treatment.

Tabor spent 12 days in hospital before returning to serve the remaining three months of his sentence.

'Look after them'

Tabor's lawyer, Tavengwa Runyowa, said given Pasap's two convictions for aggravated assault, he did not belong in a low-risk unit.

"The government has got a duty that if someone is incarcerated that they look after them," said Runyowa.

"These people are prisoners and most of them have done bad things," Runyowa said. "But that does not mean going into a jail is going to be a death sentence or a licence to be assaulted to the point that you are a different person when you come out."

None of these allegations have been proven in court. 

Pasap faces an aggravated assault charge in connection with the incident and will appear at Regina Provincial Court for a preliminary hearing in January.

A criminologist who spent years working in Alberta correctional centres said he's "curious" why Pasap was assigned to a low-risk unit.

"There's so much separation and segregation it's hard to identify inmates who are what we might define as 'vulnerable inmates,'" said University of Winnipeg criminal justice professor Michael Weinrath.

Lifelong injuries

In his lawsuit, Tabor argues he sustained life-threatening and lifelong injuries as a result of the attack.

The former inmate said he underwent reconstructive surgery for his entire skull. Tabor said most of the bones in his face have now been removed and replaced with titanium plates.

Tabor said the incident has caused the loss of most of his teeth, blurry vision, memory loss and severe injuries to his shoulder, back and ribs, too.
Tabor's wife Cheryl Wiebe says her husband requires around-the-clock care. (CBC)

"It's terrible," he said. "Painful. My eye's always running like I'm crying all the time. I always drop things. I always fall down. I don't taste or smell anymore."

Tabor's wife Cheryl Wiebe said her husband will need around-the-clock nursing care as his health continues to deteriorate. She noted he is unable to work and said he will likely require further surgeries.

"I definitely couldn't pay for him to be in a home if something further happens," Wiebe said. "Shayne went from being a spouse to being probably the biggest child I've ever had."

​Justice officials deny any negligence 

In a statement of defence, Saskatchewan Justice officials said jail guards restrained Pasap and offered Tabor medical attention right away.

The overcrowding is taxing on everybody, on the guards and on the inmates in the centres.- Bob Bymoen, SGEU president

"The response of attending correctional officers and medical staff was reasonable and not unduly delayed," it reads.

"The plaintiff was immediately offered medical assistance."

Justice officials would not comment further on the case, as it remains before the courts.

In 2015, inmates at the Regina Correctional Centre were involved in 151 cases of assault, fights or uttering threats.

The Saskatchewan Government and General Employees' Union, which represents correctional officers, says overcrowding is contributing to inmate violence in provincial jails overall. 

"The overcrowding is taxing on everybody, on the guards and on the inmates in the centres," said union president Bob Bymoen. "It makes it a more dangerous environment."

He added: "It's just harder to watch everybody and it all combines to a bit of a powder keg."

With files from Jennifer Quesnel