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Entertainment Ontario's chief pathologist determines what killed Soleiman Faqiri — 5 years after he died behind bars

18:41  10 august  2021
18:41  10 august  2021 Source:   msn.com

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a man wearing a hat: Soleiman Faqiri, or 'Soli,' as his family knew him, had been a straight-A student and captain of his high school football team. But his life took a turn after he was diagnosed with schizophrenia at 18 after a car accident. © Submitted by Yusuf Faqiri Soleiman Faqiri, or 'Soli,' as his family knew him, had been a straight-A student and captain of his high school football team. But his life took a turn after he was diagnosed with schizophrenia at 18 after a car accident.

Five years after Soleiman Faqiri died on the floor of an Ontario jail — shackled, pepper-sprayed and face down with his head covered — the province's chief forensic pathologist has determined just what killed him.

It's the answer to a question his family has been asking for years, only to be told again and again there was no way of knowing how the 30-year-old with schizophrenia died behind bars as he awaited transfer to a medical facility.

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Until now.

Faqiri's official cause of death, as found by Dr. Michael Pollanen: "Prone position restraint and musculocutaneous injuries sustained during struggle, exertion and pepper spray exposure" in a person with an enlarged heart and worsening schizophrenia.

In other words, Faqiri's death was the result of being held face down on his stomach and the injuries he suffered while being physically restrained and repeatedly struck by a group of at least six guards at the Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay, Ont., in 2016.

"Multiple musculocutaneous injuries were present due to blunt trauma caused by some combination of correctional officers striking Soleiman Faqiri, or his body hitting the ground or stationary objects during a violent struggle with the correctional officers," Pollanen said in a peer-reviewed forensic pathology review report dated Aug. 5.

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"None of the injuries were individually fatal," Pollanen said in the report. "But, in combination, the injuries were a significant contributing factor in death."

As a result of the chief pathologist's report, the case has been referred back to the Ontario Provincial Police, meaning criminal charges could possibly be back on the table, the family's lawyers say.

a group of people posing for a photo: Faqiri's family has been asking for years what killed their beloved Soli, only to be told there was no way of knowing how the 30-year-old with schizophrenia died behind bars. © Richard Agecoutay/CBC Faqiri's family has been asking for years what killed their beloved Soli, only to be told there was no way of knowing how the 30-year-old with schizophrenia died behind bars.

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Two previous criminal investigations — by the Kawartha Lakes Police Service and the OPP, respectively — resulted in no charges being laid against any of the guards involved.

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"We now know that Soleiman Faqiri was killed with a lethal combination of excessive force," said Edward Marrocco, one of the lawyers representing the family. "There is no mystery remaining."

Case referred back to provincial police, lawyers say

Faqiri — or "Soli," as his family knew him — had been a straight-A student and captain of his high school football team. But his life took a turn when he was diagnosed with schizophrenia at 18 after a car accident. Over the years, he was repeatedly taken into custody under the province's Mental Health Act.

Pollanen's finding comes just months after the lead pathologist announced a review into Faqiri's death. According to the family's lawyers, it also replaces the finding of the original 2017 forensic pathology report by Dr. Magdaleni Bellis, which found Faqiri's cause of death could not be determined — or was "unascertained."

The move to review the case comes less than a year after court documents emerged suggesting jail guards violated their use-of-force policies when they restrained Faqiri.

It also comes more than two years after CBC News spoke exclusively with an inmate whose cell was directly across from Faqiri's segregation unit, and whose eyewitness account never factored into the original post-mortem report.

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'We call on you to do your job'

In his report, Pollanen confirms he took into account a statement from an inmate along with those of correctional officers, examined autopsy and lab results, medical history, video footage from inside the jail, the spit hood covering Faqiri in his final moments and the cell where Faqiri took his final breath.

Pollanen mentions that the science behind how someone might die in a face-down position is "not entirely settled in forensic medicine," and that other pathologists could hold different opinions on how to frame the "bottom line" cause of his death.

That's something Faqiri's family now hopes will change following the revelation of his cause of death.

"To the Ontario Provincial Police — we call on you to do your job," said Faqiri's older brother, Yusuf. "Prove to us that the system doesn't protect correctional officers when they break the law."

CBC News is pursuing comment from the OPP and the Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services.

A $14.3-million lawsuit filed by the family against the ministry and seven individual jail staff members remains before the courts.

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