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ARCH Statement: Calling for Action as Ontario’s Chief Forensic Pathologist Confirms Cause of Soleiman Faqiri’s Death

August 20, 2021

Soleiman Faqiri was killed on December 15, 2016 while in a segregated cell at the Central East Correctional Centre awaiting to be transferred to the Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health in Whitby. In August 2020, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) decided not to lay charges against the correctional officers involved in the death of Mr. Faqiri.

However, five years after Mr. Faqiri’s death, and a year after the OPP declined to lay charges, a forensic pathology report, dated August 5, 2021, finally offers long awaited confirmation related to the cause of Mr. Faqiri’s wrongful death.

Mr. Faqiri was a person with a mental health disability who sustained obvious and brutal injuries that led to his death. At least six guards were involved in the altercation. The Chief Forensic Pathologist stated that it was not one but multiple factors which caused Mr. Faqiri’s death including, “prone position restraint, blunt impact trauma of the neck and body, handcuffing, shackling, application of a spit hood, and exposure to pepper spray”.

Last year, ARCH released a statement in response to the OPP’s announcement that its investigation concluded with no charges laid against the guards due to its inability to determine which guard dealt the fatal blow. While ARCH and other advocates expressed alarm with the OPP’s rationale, which was a flagrant disregard for well-established legal principles, this Report leaves no further room for doubt as to the cause of Mr. Faqiri’s death.

Persons with disabilities experience disproportionate violence at the hands of law enforcement and other positions of authority. Moreover, persons with disabilities who identify with intersecting identities including Indigenous, Black and racialized communities are disproportionately impacted.

ARCH’s thoughts are with the Faqiri family who have suffered a devastating loss but continue to tirelessly advocate and fight for accountability, justice and systemic change. ARCH urges the OPP to respond accordingly and lay criminal charges against those responsible for Mr. Faqiri’s death, and ARCH continues to call for systemic change to end the discriminatory and violent treatment against persons with disabilities in Ontario.

August 20, 2021