728 x 90

Inquest follows inmate's final few hours


The first day of the inquest into the death of Freeman Zong, 26, of Dauphin, at Dauphin Court House included video of the last hours of the inmate’s life, Apr. 1.
Zong died while in custody at Dauphin Correctional Centre (DCC), July 14, 2016. A medical examiner determined his death was by suicide and under the Fatality Inquiries Act, an inquest was called.
Provincial Court Judge Christine Harapiak and those attending the inquest watched the July 14, 2016 closed-circuit television (CCTV) recording of the common room for two cells containing Zong and three other inmates.
The recording was from approximately 6:30 p.m., when Zong was using a telephone in the common room, to after 8 p.m. when his body was removed from the area by EMS staff.
Zong had been found by a corrections officer, hanging from a vent in the washroom, adjacent to the common room at approximately 7:30 p.m. and a code red was called.
The washroom door had a privacy curtain across the doorway and there are no cameras in the cells or washrooms.
The recording revealed the movements of the inmates and corrections staff in the common room, as well as EMS staff and RCMP.
Throughout the viewing, Judge Harapiak, inquest counsel Alan Semchuk and Crown counsel for corrections, Sean Boyd, asked questions to acting DCC superintendent David Shewchuk.
He explained there was no room for a stretcher in the hallways and stairs of DCC and a back board was used.
There was a delay in exiting the building, he said, as computer software to operate the gate on the east side of the building had crashed and it took several minutes to reboot it.
Prior to viewing the CCTV recording, a video tour, along with photographs and a map of DCC was presented by Shewchuk.
Shewchuk noted some areas of the institution have changed since July 2016, and he focussed on areas Zong would have been to.
After the video tour, Judge Harapiak ordered the video, photographs and map provided be sealed for security reasons.
The court also heard the testimony of Corrections officer Maxwell Jordan.
Jordan noted his only interaction with Zong was during admission, describing the process and explained the security and suicide rating procedure.
The officer had increased Zong’s suicide rating to medium, from low, which meant an officer would make contact with him, either visually or verbally, every 30 minutes.
The inquest will continue this week.

M. A. Nyquist