During the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, a female hospital patient died after security guards pushed her against a wall for not wearing a face mask above her chin.
Stephanie Warriner, 43, appeared to have no pulse after the May 2020 altercation at Toronto General Hospital. She was able to be revived, but was taken off life support 16 days later, CTV News reported.
Security camera footage published by CTV News shows most of the incident, including Warriner’s limp body being wheeled away from the scene in handcuffs. Two guards were charged with manslaughter, but those charges were dismissed in November last year, meaning a jury will never see the video.
The judge wrote in his decision that “a properly instructed jury” would never convict the guards, adding that they had restrained Warriner “with minimal violence, the foreseeable consequences of which would be either trivial or transitory in terms of the potential for bodily harm.”
“This is so painful, and then there’s no ending,” Stephanie Warriner’s sister, Denise, told CTV News. “I was prepared to accept any verdict that a jury would have presented.”
Warriner, who also had the respiratory disease COPD, had been admitted to the hospital’s COVID ward the previous night, according to the decision. She left her room the morning of May 11, 2020 and was found after a search, sitting near the COVID screening area with her face mask below her chin.
Security guards demanded from a distance that she put her mask on, but Warriner refused, becoming “loud, verbally abusive and agitated,” according to the decision. The video shows the guard Amanda Rojas-Silva donning protective gear to approach Warriner, and speaking to Warriner while making forceful hand motions.
The camera briefly pans away from the scene. Warriner is next pictured with her face mask covering her mouth, being pushed against a wall by Rojas-Silva, who is soon joined by another guard, Shane Hutley.
The camera pans away again, showing an empty hallway for the rest of the encounter. The camera operator briefly lost his license for that move, according to CTV News.
Describing the moments while the camera was pointed away, the decision states that Warriner resisted the guards by flailing, spitting and kicking. Rojas-Silva and Warriner eventually fell on the floor, where Warriner was handcuffed while laying chest-down.
The decision says there is conflicting evidence about whether Warriner was “vocal and alert” moments later while being forcibly placed in a wheelchair. But Rojas-Silva noticed Warriner was unresponsive after placing her there and called a “code blue” emergency, according to the decision.
She never regained consciousness.
The University Health Network, which the hospital is part of, added 12 hours to their security guard training after the incident, CTV reported. A statement from the network said it has “dramatically enhanced our focus on de-escalation via training, policy, and our philosophy statement.”