Revealed: How a Brutal Beating By Guards Led to a Prisoner's Death

Soleiman Faqiri, 30, died shackled and handcuffed in a segregated cell after sustaining at least 50 injuries in a struggle with guards.
August 10, 2021, 3:28pm
Yusuf Faqiri, is photographed in his Toronto home on Nov 10 2020. Faqiri's brother Soleiman Faqiri spent 11 days in solitary confinement at Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay, Ont., before he died on Dec. 15, 2016.
Yusuf Faqiri, is photographed in his Toronto home on Nov 10 2020. Faqiri's brother Soleiman Faqiri spent 11 days in solitary confinement at Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay, Ont., before he died on Dec. 15, 2016. Image by the Globe and Mail via The Canadian Press

Ontario’s chief forensic pathologist says the use of force by guards in a prison ultimately killed a man five years ago. 

Soleiman Faqiri, 30, died in 2016 after being restrained by guards in the Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay, Ont. while awaiting a transfer to hospital for psychiatric care. He’d been arrested during a schizophrenic episode earlier that year where he’d allegedly stabbed a neighbour, although he hadn’t been convicted of any crime at the time of his death. 

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Faqiri died in shackles and handcuffs in a segregated cell, after receiving 50 blunt force injuries in a struggle with seven guards, which began when he threw water and shampoo bottles at them in the shower.  

“It is now clear beyond any doubt that guards killed Soleiman,” said Nader Hasan, one of the Faqiri family’s lawyers in a statement released on Tuesday.

According to a review of the case by Dr. Michael Pollanen, Ontario’s chief forensic pathologist, Faqiri died due to a combination of his exhausting struggle with prison guards, multiple blunt force injuries to his neck and body, underlying heart issues, the use of shackles and handcuffs on Faqiri while in a prone position, pepper spray, and worsening symptoms of schizophrenia. 

“In my opinion, the foregoing analysis makes it clear that death cannot be attributed to any singly ascertained factor or injury,” Pollanen wrote in his report. “It is equally clear that death was caused by the combination of several ascertainable extrinsic and intrinsic cofactors.” 

Faqiri’s death happened just before his transfer to a new cell in the Central East Correctional Centre. He was taken by guards to shower, where guards said he began spraying them with water and throwing shampoo bottles at them. During his walk from the shower back to his cell, according to Pollanen’s report, he was apparently struck and pepper sprayed by prison guards. An earlier coroner’s report found Faqiri had more than 50 blunt force injuries. 

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He was eventually restrained using handcuffs and shackles, but Pollanen’s report says Faqiri died inside a segregation cell. None of the struggle was visible on prison security footage. 

Kawartha Lakes Police Service officers initially investigated Faqiri’s death, but concluded in 2017 that no criminal charges were warranted. The original post-mortem report found Faqiri’s cause of death was “unascertained.” The case was later taken over by investigators from the Ontario Provincial Police. 

Lawyers representing Faqiri’s family say the case has been returned to the OPP for possible criminal charges against the prison guards involved in using force against him inside the segregation cell. 

“For almost five years, police forces hid behind the previous ‘unascertained’ finding in the post-mortem report as an excuse for not laying criminal charges. The Pollanen report has removed any ambiguity as to the cause of death,” Hasan said.

Faqiri’s family launched a $14.3 million lawsuit against Ontario, the superintendent of the Central East Correctional Centre, and seven prison guards in 2019 for excessive force. 

Yusuf Faqiri, the older brother of Soleiman, says both the OPP and the Kawartha Lakes Police Service have “repeatedly failed my family at every possible opportunity.” In a statement, he demanded the OPP follow through on criminal charges—something two different police services have considered, but never gone ahead with.  

“Stop trying to make this case go away,” he said in a statement. “We will bring this case back for a fourth time and a fifth time if you continue to ignore what happened here.” 

Three guards were fired after the incident although one has since been reinstated.

Correction: A previous version said the OPP considered charges twice in this incident. Both the OPP and Kawartha Lakes Police Service investigated without laying charges.