A P.E.I. man has pleaded guilty to two charges of causing a public nuisance by failing to self-isolate, relating to COVID-19.
Javan Mizero Nsangira, 22, has been held in jail for the past seven weeks on these charges, along with charges of assault and uttering threats.
According to facts read out in P.E.I. Supreme Court Tuesday afternoon — and agreed to by Nsangira — in early July Nsangira drove to Halifax to pick up an international student who had travelled from outside the country. The student was refused entry to P.E.I. because he didn't have the necessary paperwork and ended up testing positive for COVID-19.
Nsangira returned to the Island and also tested positive for COVID-19, along with three of his close contacts, including one who worked at a Charlottetown senior's care home, Whisperwood Villa.
That led to widespread testing of 129 residents and 140 staff members at Whisperwood — tests that all came back negative.
Police got involved on July 15 when they found Nsangira on a city street at 2 a.m. by a car parked on the wrong side of the road with its dome light and four-way flashers on. He was the registered owner of the vehicle.
During their conversation, Nsangira told police he had tested positive for COVID-19 and they discovered he was supposed to be self-isolating at his home, which was nearby.
According to police Nsangira did not attempt to warn or distance himself from the officers.
He was told to go home and self-isolate but was not arrested or charged. Both officers had to get tested twice and self-isolate for 14 days as a result.
Police respond to 911 call
Three hours later police got a 911 call to Nsangira's home in Charlottetown. His girlfriend told police he was trying to hurt her. She told them it was out of character for him and that his mental state had been "odd recently and he had not acted like this before."
Police arrested him for assaulting her, kicking open her bedroom door and threatening to hurt her according to the agreed statement. He was also charged for not self isolating. Nsangira was released from custody, but since he could not go home and did not have another residence where he could self-isolate, police arranged — through public health officials — for him to stay at the Brudenell Resort, which the provincial government was using for essential workers who didn't have a place to quarantine.
Nsangira was retested before he went to Brudenell and again tested positive for COVID.
At Brudenell, he was confined to his room, attended to by a public health nurse and meals were brought to him daily.
On July 17, the nurse and security discovered he had left his room and was walking around the grounds. They tried to convince him to return to his room, because he needed to self-isolate and the golf course there was open and other people were present.
He told the nurse he was under mental stress by self-isolating and said "it would drive him crazy and that depression would kill him before COVID would," according to the facts read out in court Tuesday.
He refused to return to his room, but agreed he would listen to the police. The nurse told him to stay where he was until police arrived. But within five minutes he was walking around the grounds again.
When RCMP arrived, the officer responded alone, and wore personal protective equipment, to limit the risk of exposure to COVID.
When Nsangira refused to return to his room, the officer arrested him.
Nsangira was escorted to the hospital in Montague where he was again tested for COVID — again he tested positive.
From there he was taken to the provincial correctional centre.
Nsangira is from Congo and is attending UPEI on a student visa.
Released on conditions
Justice Tracey Clements agreed to release Nsangira Tuesday with conditions, until he's sentenced. Those conditions include staying on P.E.I., reporting to probation, and participating in the preparation of a pre-sentence report. He also is required to stay with a family member, who lives near UPEI, and answer the door if police come to check on him. He has to attend classes and follow up with a mental health professional.
If he doesn't follow the conditions, Nsangira will be taken into custody again.
Nsangira tried to explain his mental health issues in court. Clements said he'd have a chance to speak at his sentencing hearing. The defence asked for a mental health assessment and a pre-sentence report.
Dozens of supporters protested outside the courthouse while Nsangira's case was being heard inside. They feel he is being treated unfairly by the justice system and the media because he's Black.
They also demonstrated at a court appearance last week.
Nsangira left the courthouse. He declined a media request for comment.
He'll be back in court Jan. 19 to be sentenced.
He still faces charges of assault and uttering threats related to incidents in July. They'll be heard in provincial court, Thursday.
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