A video showing a security guard at the St. John Area Correctional Center beating an inmate was released this week in Fredericton State Court.
The video shows Scott Morrison being tackled to the ground by two guards.
Morrison was remanded pending trial on eight drug trafficking offenses.
In October, Judge Cameron Gunn convicted him, and Morrison filed a petition seeking a commuted sentence on the basis that the prison beating violated his charter rights.
Morrison asked for the video to be shown in court to support his petition, but the Attorney General’s Office filed its own petition on November 3, sealing the video and making it available to the public and the media. Asked to block seeing them.
Through the application and affidavit, the state stated that playing the video in court could violate the privacy rights of other inmates who could be seen on the video, and would require a tactical response to emergencies. He argued that showing could undermine prison security.
After hearing arguments from attorneys representing the Attorney General’s Office and attorneys representing CBC News, Gunn denied the government’s application on Tuesday, citing the importance of the open court principle.
“Mr. Morrison argues that people can see the video of the assault by prison officers, whatever it is, may help them understand my decision,” Gunn said.
“Such an understanding only serves to enhance the reputation of the justice administration. Hiding the videos from the general public could help reduce public confidence in the justice system.”
Footage shows punch
Following Gunn’s decision to deny the state’s application, court reopened and Sheldon Curry, the state’s chief of correctional services, was asked to testify about what was shown when the video was played. I was asked.
The video consisted of CCTV footage showing different angles inside the prison, as well as footage from a camera held by one of the guards.
CCTV footage shows two guards walking Morrison down the stairs to the cell door.
One of the guards was seen trying to open the door, and Morrison slammed it shut.
The door opens again and Morrison steps inside to see the guards pushing him in.
Morrison walks back and approaches two guards, a brawl ensues, one guard hugs Morrison’s shoulders, and a second guard grabs Morrison’s leg and takes him to the ground.
One of the guards can be seen beating Morrison on the ground.
Other guards from different parts of the prison can be seen gathering and running to the area where Morrison was.
The CCTV footage contained no audio.
The court was then shown footage from a handheld camera. Curry said it should be used by security guards whenever a tactical emergency response is triggered.
The footage contains audio and shows as many as six guards crouching over Morrison.
From the angle of the recording, Morrison is not visible at first, but someone can be heard shouting “You are resisting” and two guards can be seen punching Morrison repeatedly in his direction. I can see.
Morrison comes into direct view of the cameras as the guards move away and pick him up off the ground.
The right knuckle of one of the guards hitting Morrison looks bloody.
Morrison, with red marks on his face, was handcuffed across what appeared to be a common area, down a hallway, and into a room with a closed door.
Curry said the case was reviewed by the prison’s use of force expert and then by the prison’s Department of Professional Standards.
Curry did not say whether there had been any discovery of wrongdoing by security guards or whether any of them had been punished.
Morrison also appeared in court and was brought to the witness box to testify about what happened.
He said the incident all stemmed from interactions with prison nurses.
He said he asked her for bandages, but she gave him the wrong bandages, so he put them back in the cart and asked her to get a different kind of bandage.
He said the guards thought he was disrespectful to her, which ordered him to leave the nurses station and return to his cell.
When Morrison got to the cell door, one of the guards pushed him in and said he was back because he was distraught and wanted to talk to the supervisor.
He was then tackled to the ground and hit three times by one of the guards before more guards rushed to the scene.
“One of the guards was trying to put a hamstring on me or something,” Morrison said.
“He grabbed the soles of my feet and it hurt so much, but he was so focused there that I was holding my pants up. One of the guards punched me in the face. I remember more guards coming in after that.”
Morrison said he kept his hands behind his back and was obedient to the guards the entire time he was on the ground.
“I had never fought them before, nor had I fought them then.”
Morrison said the incident left him with blackened eyes and abrasions and marks on his face and neck.
He said he asked prison guards to take a picture of his face, which was shown in court.
He said his headaches became more frequent and he took longer to read as a result of the incident. I said I have.
Defense attorneys seek 29-month sentencing
As part of the sentencing, the court heard Morrison reaffirm his previous guilty pleas on two counts of possession of cocaine for trafficking purposes, possession of stolen property, and fleeing police counts. Fredericton on August 7, 2021.
Crown’s and Morrison’s attorney, Ben Lientwich, has handed down 90-day sentences on those charges.
Reentovich said he believed Morrison deserved 29 months in prison, including a six-month commutation, as redress for the beating Morrison received, combined with eight drug-trafficking offenses.
“You don’t have to punch him in the face multiple times to grab him by the throat. You saw the marks in those photos,” Leentovich said.
“The inmate’s uncooperative response to me is disproportionate, unreasonable, and needs to be corrected.”
Prosecutor Brian Mann said he recommended that Morrison be sentenced to three to five years in prison.
Gunn said he would reserve a decision until November 28.