TORONTO - Just because a “planned, vicious ambush” on two correctional officers at the new Toronto jail failed to make the news last week, does not mean it did not happen.
It most certainly did. And the fallout is still resonating.
That wasn’t Hollywood and it wasn’t fake blood pouring from the rookie correctional officer’s face.
But the attack on two officers at the Toronto South Detention Centre by several inmates was something out of a prison movie: A conspiracy, a plan, people recruited to commit violence and an ambush.
Last Tuesday, the Sun has learned, it was executed — sending two officers to hospital. Veteran correctional officers tell me it’s an attack on colleagues that has upset people who do that job all across the province.
“It’s the worst beating of an officer on duty I have seen in my two decades inside of jails,” said a fellow correction’s officer. “The young man with just six months on the job was beaten so bad he was not recognizable.”
The ambulance that responded was not a prop and the paramedics, doctors and nurses who saved the officer were not actors.
“But people might have thought the whole thing was a movie because there was not one story in the newspaper, on radio, or television,” said a colleague of the two hurt officers. “We can’t believe that something so vicious would not make the news.”
Somehow this ugly incident slipped between the cracks. But it was on the books.
“I can tell you that we responded to an incident at the Toronto South Detention Centre on Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016, at 3:40 p.m.,” said Toronto Police spokesman Meaghan Gray. “Three inmates were allegedly involved in the assault of two correctional officers. The officers were transported to hospital to be treated for their injuries.”
A male officer was allegedly choked and received serious facial wounds.
“He’s not OK, Joe,” said a colleague. “He was very badly hurt.”
A female officer also suffered a broken wrist.
“She bravely tried to assist him and she was badly assaulted too,” he said. “They both could have easily been killed.”
The story is revolting. We need to take better care of our corrections officers.
OPSEU president Smokey Thomas said it was “disgusting” and a “reminder of just how dangerous their jobs are.” He said he’s “outraged” and “sickened” and “there will be discussions about how out of control things are inside the jails.”
Citing another assault at a Brampton hospital in which a Maplehurst officer was allegedly choked, Thomas said staff shortages are one issue and the ferocious gang wars inside are another.
But one of the key reasons for the dangers is the province’s new “rules on segregation,” that Thomas and many officers say is a disaster.
“They used to be able to put an unruly inmate into isolation for 29 days and he would lose all of his privileges,” said an officer. “Now we can only hold them for 15 days and they keep everything. We can’t even take their mattress away from them in the day anymore.”
The wounds are shocking but not the whole story.
“This was a planned attack (allegedly) by an inmate who didn’t participate in assault,” said an officer. “Two inmates (allegedly) ambushed the first officer. Held him and viciously assaulted him. No weapon It was two inmates on one officer.”
Toronto Police charged inmate Chibuike Nwagwu with two counts of conspiracy to commit an assault. Justin Cyopeck was charged with two counts of assault peace officer, one count of conspiracy, one count of overcome resistance by choking.
Kurtis Sutherland-Cada is charged with two counts of assault peace officer, one count of conspiracy. All three are in jail on other serious allegations before courts.
Many officers told me this incident needs to be the turning point.
“It’s just a matter of time,” said an insider. “A staff member will die.”