Denise Warriner via CBC Canada

Judge dismisses case against guards accused of killing a woman for not wearing mask

A Canadian Superior Court Justice has thrown out a case against two Toronto General Hospital security guards accused of criminal negligence and manslaughter. 

The case arose after a 43 year old woman, Danielle Stephanie Warriner, died at the hospital on the 27th of May 2020 – 16 days after being confronted by security personnel after she lowered the covid mask she was wearing while sitting alone near a pillar in a waiting area of the hospital. 

The incident captured by CCTV shows two guards, Amanda Rojas-Silva, 42 and Shane Hutley, 35 manhandling Warriner, with Rojas-Silvaby pushing her face first against a wall. 

At that point the camera operator, another hospital security guard,  turned the camera away from the unfolding incident – an action which reportedly subsequently caused him to temporarily lose his license – leading to confusion about what exactly happened next. 

After the camera refocuses on the scene, an unconscious Warriner is captured being moved away in a wheelchair by four security guards, never to regain consciousness. 

Eyewitness reported that while the camera was turned away, Warriner who suffered from COPD and was having difficulty breathing, was thrown to the ground and pinned down with knees on her back. 

A preliminary hearing of the manslaughter and criminal negligence case was held last year, but lawyers for Rojas-Silva and Huntly successfully applied to the Ontario Superior courts to have the case dismissed before it went to full hearing. 

Throwing out the case, Justice S.F. Dumphy found that, 

“While there was some evidence from which the Crown could seek findings that the accused unlawfully restrained the deceased and that certain of their actions in doing so were a substantial contributing cause of death, the actions undertaken to restrain the deceased for which there is any evidence were forceful but not violent and consistent with their training in restraining someone.”

According to details from a coroner’s report obtained by Warriner’s family, the deceased woman had been admitted to hospital suffering from covid 19 and was discharged 13 days later, only to return to the hospital after 4 days complaining of a persistent cough, shortness of breath, and confusion.

The report states that Warriner was sitting alone calmly when the guards approached her, launching into a “screaming/yelling match” with the patient. 

The guards then lifted the woman from the chair in which she was sitting “before walking her a few feet over and forcing her face first with considerable strength against a wall.”

The report concludes that Warriner’s cause of death was “restraint asphyxia following struggle and exertion.”

It continues,

“Pressure on her chest during the restraint would have impaired her ability to breathe while the increased oxygen demand from the preceding period of exertion and struggle would have left Ms. Warriner more vulnerable to die of asphyxia,.

Warrier’s older sister Denise who described viewing the CCTV footage of her sister’s ordeal as “gut wrenching” told local news that her sister had tested negative for covid 19 during her second stint at Toronto General Hospital but was still suffering from the effects of the virus. 

She says her sister had been wearing a covid mask while on her way to the hospital cafeteria but had lowered it as she had become short of breath and was struggling for air. 

 

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