10 HMP guards exonerated in Henoche death sue N.L. government

·2 min read
Jonathan Henoche died in 2019 at Her Majesty's Penitentiary. Ten guards were arrested and charged in connection with his death but were later exonerated. (Facebook - image credit)
Jonathan Henoche died in 2019 at Her Majesty's Penitentiary. Ten guards were arrested and charged in connection with his death but were later exonerated. (Facebook - image credit)

Ten correctional officers initially accused of killing an inmate have filed a lawsuit against the Newfoundland and Labrador government, the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary and the chief medical examiner, claiming a flawed investigation has caused undue damage to their mental health, reputations and finances.

The guards were all present when inmate Jonathan Henoche died in a segregation unit of Her Majesty's Penitentiary in 2019.

Three of the guards were originally charged with manslaughter and seven charged with negligence causing death. Those charges were all dismissed earlier this year.

The 10 guards, who filed a joint statement of claim last month at provincial Supreme Court, allege that police flubbed their investigation into the man's death and prosecutors wrongfully pursued charges against them.

Lawyers Lynn Moore, Les Thistle, Stephen Orr and Ken Mahoney wrote that their clients are seeking a yet-to-be-determined amount in damages related to the charges.

They say the guards have suffered mental pain, anguish and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life, loss of reputation, and a "sense of betrayal from having been subjected to malicious prosecution, negligent investigation, [and] negligence and defamation."

The claim also took aim at the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, which investigated the guards, suggesting the police force failed to look into the correctional officers' use of force training to determine whether they'd committed a crime while detaining Henoche, who died of heart failure shortly after a physical conflict with guards.

It also argues police also shouldn't have relied on a re-enactment from chief medical examiner Nebojsa Denic and should have obtained an expert opinion on the use of force.

The Department of Public Prosecutions is also accused of proceeding with the charges despite not securing a reasonable prospect of conviction and providing advice to the RNC before charges were laid, which the suit claims "increases the prospect of tunnel vision."

Several accusations were also leveraged against Denic, who's also named as a defendant in the suit and who conducted Henoche's autopsy.

The claim says Denic didn't peer-review his work, "became an advocate for police and prosecution," failed to conduct enough tests to reveal Henoche's cardiac issue, and failed to look at Henoche's medical history, among other allegations.

Henoche's family is also in the midst of a lawsuit against the provincial government that claims the 33-year-old inmate was improperly cared for while at HMP.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting