A week-long inquest into the suicide of an inmate at the Saskatchewan Penitentiary began on Monday in Prince Albert.
During the first day, RCMP and corrections officers involved in the investigation were questioned about the circumstances surrounding the suicide of Andy Allen Brassard in his cell on Nov. 16, 2012.
Grisly details emerged about the suicide.
Corrections officer Darren Valley found Brassard hanging from the bars of his cell door, with the coaxial cable from his television around his neck. He said he had to do a double-take after seeing the body.
Valley then called for help. Corrections officers Ward and Silver cut Brassard down while Valley ran to unlock the cell door from the panel in cell block observation room.
It was unknown exactly how long Brassard had been hanging there. His body was discovered while Valley conducted his 11 p.m. prisoner count. Brassard had been accounted for in the 10:30 count.
Silver said Brassard’s body was “cold and clammy to the touch” when they cut him free, and guided his body to the ground.
They began CPR while an AED was located. Corrections officer Matice said the AED was difficult to find at first, forcing her to grab one from the health centre. She said the AED location was not well marked.
When the device was fixed to Brassard’s body, it allegedly said “no shock” because it could not detect any electrical output from the heart.
Trent Rousson, who was the Parkland Ambulance Paramedic who responded to the suicide, said there’s nothing that can be done if there are no electrical pulses from the heart.
Witnesses testified it took roughly three minutes from the time when Brassard was found to when the door was opened and officers were able to enter the cell. 20 minutes later Parkland Ambulance Paramedics arrived and took over resuscitation efforts.
The big question of the first day was how many of the responders had CPR and first aid training, as well as suicide prevention training.
All officers said they had CPR and first aid training at the time. Corrections officer Silver said he couldn’t recall if he had suicide prevention training at the time.
Brassard had minimal interaction with the officers questioned, beyond routine prison meetings such as in the cafeteria.
The day ended with chaplain Nick Ferreras recounting his only interaction with Brassard. Two days before the suicide, Brassard and Ferreras had talked in his cell.
Ferreras said Brassard seemed unhappy, but not suicidal, and was angry at God for not being there for him in his time of need.
By the time Ferreras left the penitentiary that day, he said Brassard was “basically okay.”
Brassard had written a suicide note, which was given to the coroner. The details of the note were not divulged. It may be submitted as evidence later in the inquest.
RCMP Constable Riley commented that it looked like “an obvious suicide.”
The purpose of an inquest is to establish who died, when and where that person died, and the medical cause and manner of death.
The coroner’s jury can also make recommendations to prevent further deaths.