What part of the game is that?!
The jury at the coroner’s inquest into the death of troubled teen Ashley Smith watched disturbing video Monday of her final moments in a cell at a southern Ontario correctional facility.
The video shows guards watching as the 19-year-old choked to death with a piece of cloth tied around her neck as she lay face down in her cell at the Grand Valley Institute for Women in Kitchener in October 2007.
At the time the video begins, recorded at 6:45 a.m., guards had been debating for about 10 minutes what to do about Smith, who had tied a ligature around her neck — something she’d done several times before. The guards had been told she was seeking attention, and not to intervene unless she stopped breathing.
But on this occasion, Smith was wedged between the bed and the wall on the floor of her cell, face down, gasping for breath but not speaking.
Another 10 minutes pass before the guards enter her cell and cut the cloth from around her neck, after which they leave the cell and continue to watch outside the door.
Yeah, they were “only doing their jobs”, but damn it’s cold-blooded to sit there and watch someone die!
Smith doesn’t move, and after a few more minutes the guards enter the cell and try to rouse her by slapping her on the back, without any response.
The guards begin to perform CPR, though one of them is heard swearing that she hasn’t had any CPR training in 11 years.
A nurse arrives and an ambulance is called as the guards continue to perform CPR, until the emergency workers arrive at 7:10 and take over. They work on Smith for another 30 minutes, then transfer her to a gurney, all the while continuing chest compressions. Smith is wheeled out of the prison to the hospital.
The prison guard who recorded the video, Valentino Burnett, testified on Monday and came under fire for following orders not to intervene when Smith was choking.
Burnett acknowledged under questioning that “in a perfect world” he would have entered the cell to save Smith.
Burnett and three other prison employees were charged for their role in Smith’s death, but the charges were dropped.
Says the guards lawyer:
“They were following what they were told was in the best interests of Miss Smith and they were trying to help her as much as possible to prevent the tragedy, but unfortunately, they weren’t allowed to prevent that tragedy as they saw fit.”
The Smith’s lawyer ain’t goin’ for it:
“(Ashley) was left to die by the correctional system, by our utter failures to meet the needs of the mentally ill.”
What would you have done in the guards situation? Follow orders, or save a young girl’s life?
Image via YouTube