Three-and-a-half years after Soleiman Faqiri died at a correctional facility in Lindsay while in restraints in a segregation cell, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) have declined to press charges against anyone involved.
OPP tell CityNews after consultation with the Crown Attorney and “a thorough assessment of available evidence,” it was determined there was no reasonable prospect of conviction on any criminal offences.
Faqiri’s brother Yusuf said they were shocked to hear the news that no criminal charges has been laid.
“Shock, disappointment, anger, devastation. We are just confused of how they came to this conclusion,” said Yusuf when asked how the family reacted.
Yusuf said they were told by provincial police the justification for not pressing charges was because they “could not see who put the fatal blow.”
When asked about Yusuf’s statement, a spokesperson from the OPP said they could not speak to the specifics of the investigation.
“The message that they are sending is that if you want to murder someone, do it in a group,” said Yusuf.
Faqiri, who had schizophrenia, died while awaiting a transfer from the Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay, Ont., to a mental health facility on December 15, 2016.
His family says a coroner’s report indicated he was found with dozens of injuries, including 50 bruises and blunt force trauma.
The coroner’s report listed the cause of death as “unascertained.”
Soleiman had been charged with two counts of aggravated assault, one count of assault and another count of uttering death threats on December 4 and was awaiting a bail hearing.
The City of Kawartha Lakes Police Service conducted the initial police investigation and also declined to press charges.
Yusuf said they were surprised that not even assault charges were laid against any of the officers allegedly involved, even after a key eyewitness came forward.
OPP tells CityNews they spoke with the eyewitness multiple times, but could not speak to the specifics of his interview “to preserve the integrity of any ensuing court processes.”
A coroner’s inquest was announced back in 2017, but no date for the inquest has been given. Several inquests have now been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Faqiri’s brother has also filed a $14.3 million lawsuit against the province and the guards at the facility, alleging the officers used excessive force that killed the 30-year-old.
“The truth of the beating death of Soleiman Faqiri will come out. We want criminal charges against the guards, nothing short of that,” said Yusuf.
A CityNews investigation found that over a dozen correctional officers and managers at the Lindsay super jail had been suspended shortly after Faqiri’s death.
Yusuf said that they were told only two correctional officers were fired and a third was originally fired, but was later reinstated.
The family’s lawyer, Edward Marrocco, said in a statement that the jury at the inquest will hear about the “last, horrific, moments of Soleiman’s life.”
“When the facts are finally made public, the inquest jury will have the power to return a verdict of “homicide”. We are confident that they will do so,” said Marrocco.
The Ministry of the Attorney General declined to comment on the decision not to press charges, but said while police may seek legal advice from the Crown regarding charges, the final decision lays with the police service.
Yusuf says their fight is far from over and his family won’t stop seeking justice.
“I will not stop until I get justice for my late brother because this case is not just about my brother anymore — it’s about any vulnerable Canadian who has died as a result of this system while suffering from mental health [problems],” Yusuf said emotionally.
“We are determined and have conviction that the truth will come out of what happened to Soleiman Faqiri and it’s unfortunate that the OPP failed the people of Ontario, failed the Faqiri family and did not have the courage to do what was right,” added Yusuf.