“ONTARIO MAN SUING PRISON GUARD AFTER ALLEGED ASSAULT CAUGHT ON CAMERA IN PRISON PARKING LOT.”
So read the lead of Nicole Brockbank’s CBC News posting on October 16, 2019.
Paul Saliba has an accessible parking permit due to injuries from a serious car accident. He had permission from Correctional Service of Canada to use a disabled spot in the staff parking lot when he visited his son at the Bath Institution just west of Kingston. On February 28 in 2017, about four months after CSC granted him use of the parking space, Correctional Officer Darin Gough cancelled his visit over an argument about parking in the staff lot.
Mr. Saliba is in his late sixties and was stopped by C.O. Gough before he could enter the prison. A disagreement over the use of the parking spot escalated when the guard cancelled his visit and Mr. Saliba would not identify himself out of fear for retribution against his son. Gough escorted him back to his car where he took pictures of his licence plate while Saliba reached into his car for his cellphone, intending to take a picture of the guard. “I was going to try and take pictures of him, but I’m not savvy with that,” Saliba told CBC News. “The next thing I know he slammed me up against the vehicle next to my vehicle.”
He believes he would have been charged for assaulting the guard had it not been for a security camera that shows C.O. Gough grabbing him by the coat and pushing him against a vehicle. Gough insists he never touched Saliba, even after looking at the video, and claims he was “the true victim” of the altercation. CSC investigators disagreed. “There is no doubt (Gough) did touch Mr. Saliba, although he is adamant he did not.”
As a brief interjection, federal prison video has no audio, and it is Correctional Service of Canada’s standard operating practice to discount video evidence that does not support a CSC narrative. What is more, and despite the finding of the investigators, neither CSC nor C.O. Gough will accept culpability for its treatment of Mr.Saliba
To move on, he reported the incident to the Ontario Provincial Police and the prison warden. The police declined to lay assault charges against Darin Gough, and Saliba then laid a private charge against the guard following the release of the prison investigation. In September of this year, Crown Julie Scott stayed the charge by arguing that the effort to get a conviction was not warranted, given the possible penalty.
Paul Saliba is now focusing on his civil lawsuit against Darin Gough and the Attorney General of Canada. His $500,000 action claims C.O. Gough “concocted false criminal accusations” against him “to cover up Office Gough’s own wrongdoing” and that the Correctional Service of Canada owed him a duty of care as a visitor at their institution. A Justice of the Peace earlier told him to exercise patience in the process, as “they protect their own.” The first Discovery Hearing was not until December 8 and 10 of this year, with a second scheduled for late January.
“GUARD’S ‘SELFIE’ ON VISITOR’S PHONE PROMPTS INMATE TO LAUNCH CASE.”
Brendan Kennedy’s report in the Toronto Star, August 21, 2018
Paul Saliba almost walked away from his lawsuit against Darin Gough more than a year ago, until he came across media coverage of another incident involving Gough and a visitor to Bath Institution, this time in February of 2016.
Tammy Truesdell was visiting her husband Jason Lauzon on February 17, 2016. She left her phone in the car; later, Darin Gough and a drug detector dog checked the vehicle in a random search. When Ms. Truesdell checked her phone after the visit, she found an email from her security feature app. The email was titled “someone tried to unlock your hangouts,” and included a close-up photo of Darin Gough, his face a portrait of concentration, his eyes focused and the tip of his tongue sticking out. The phone’s security takes an “Intruder Selfie” when someone incorrectly enters its four-digit passcode twice, then emails it to the phone’s owner.
She was shocked and angry. Visitors may be subject to a search of their person and sometimes their vehicles, but CSC guards do not have the right to search the contents of phones. Ms. Truesdell recognized Gough as the guard who had searched her earlier in the day and spoke to her husband that evening. He filed a complaint using the prison’s internal grievance system.
The complaint went nowhere, not surprising given that the grievance process is a sop. Prison management discounted the photo it was given. Gough denied trying to unlock the phone, saying he must have inadvertently triggered the security function when he moved the phone into the glove compartment so it would not be damaged by the drug dog.
Lauzon took the government to court in the face of “unequivocal photographic evidence.” He was not suing prison officials or looking for damages, but he asked the Federal Court to review the Correctional Service of Canada’s handling of his grievance. All he wanted was an acknowledgement of what occurred and an apology. Lauzon’s lawyer, Paul Quick of the Queen’s Prison Law Clinic, said the case may be minor but was important, “because it clearly illustrates the dynamic that allows prison staff to commit abuses and act outside the law without fear of being held accountable.”
When Lauzon raised the matter with a supervisor, assistant warden Tim Hamilton told him if he ever wanted to be transferred to a minimum-security facility, he should “keep (his) head down, stay off the radar and don’t flood us with paperwork,” which Lauzon understood as thinly veiled threats. According to Paul Quick, “the word of a guard will not only be believed over that of a prisoner but will be accepted over all other evidence….,” adding that “time and again” CSC is “fundamentally incapable of acknowledging wrongdoing.” He went on. “It sends prisoners a message that it is not the law that matters, but simply power and the ability to get away with it.”
According to Brendan Kennedy’s report, “The inmate grievance was denied at each stage of the process until a judge dismissed the couple’s application for judicial review because the potential wrongdoing happened to Ms. Truesdell, a visitor, not to an inmate.” But Justice Glennys McVeigh noted in her decision that “the idea that two incorrect four-digit codes could be imputed simply by moving a phone into the glovebox is an unlikely explanation for what occurred.”
Paul Saliba is forging ahead with his action: “The judge in Napanee was on my side and made us come back to court 8 times before Crown Julie Scott had the charges stayed. He warned the Crown that I was passionate about this and I would not stop there if he had to stay the charges. He was so correct! I will not stop until we see changes. We cannot continue like this.”
We know Tammy Truesdall and Jason Lauzon were not satisfied with the outcome of their action against the prison agency. We do not know what their experience with the system has been since they stood up to it. No doubt their names are red flagged. No doubt they are subject to biased scrutiny. Hopefully, they are alert and cautious, but not cowered.
Expect Paul Saliba to be challenged, frustrated, and oppressed as he pushes against a government service not regulated by the mechanisms of popular control. There’s more to come.
….and, there’s still more guards to come, too.