His testimony, prior to the video showing, punctuated with more than one I don’t remember, honestly’s, dealth with how he came to be the one running the video camera. He had been at the end of his shift, on his way out the door to go home, when there was a request for all available hands to assist in the segregation unit.
One would have to bet that – if nothing else – he regretted not continuing on his way out the door.
But he didn’t; he went to the unit, where he was asked to begin filming.
And he did so…. filming the death of Ashley Smith.
Except that, when asked, he related that as far as he was concerned he was not filming a death – she was, after all, still breathing when he arrived.
Following the video, the majority of which shows people attempting – in vain, as we know – CPR to resusitate Ashley Smith, cross examination began, during which Mr. Burnett repeatedly stated that it was not his job to intervene.
Not my job …. other people’s job…. I was just asked to videotape, I did my job… blah blah blah.
When asked what the job of a Correctional Officer is, Mr. Burnett did, in fact know that ensuring the health & well being of inmates was, actually, a key role… but that was not HIS job in this case. In this case, he was just asked to videotape and he did his job.
Well done, then, Mr. Burnett. *sigh*
It is all so sad. And infuriating.
We are – supposedly – a developed country. We have rights. And resources.
This is Canada, for God’s sake! Home of nice people, health care for all, blah blah blah….
7 people, all paid by us to encourage and assist offenders to become law-abiding citizens while exercising reasonable, safe, secure and humane control (CSC Mission Statement) - not one of them, apparently, considered ensuring that an inmate continued breathing to be a significant part of their job.
And just in case you think that the situation has improved, that Ashley Smith was simply an accident, shall we talk about Kinew James?
Kinew James was a 35 year old Aboriginal woman incarcerated on various charges. She too, has spent significant periods of time in segregation at GVI, the same institution where Ashley Smith died. She too had her sentence extended as a result of acting out behaviours towards the facility and corrections officers. In fact, she told a judge, before whom she appeared on some of those charges, that she was not like Ashley Smith, and resented being compared to her. And she too is dead.
But hey… not to worry… there will be an Inquest into her death too. Doesn’t that make you feel better? Yeah… me either.