TORONTO – Video released in an Ottawa court last week showing the prison beating of terror suspect Carlos Larmond endangered the lives of the guards who watched it take place, says the union representing them.
The video released to the media last Thursday shows two men viciously attacking Larmond while eight other inmates watch during an altercation on March 3 at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre.
Terrence Wilson, 24, pleaded guilty to the incident and was sentenced to 60 days in addition to time he was serving for aggravated assault. A second inmate also pleaded guilty and is scheduled to appear in court for sentencing at a later date.
Corrections officers can be seen watching the beating through a window from behind a security door. After about one minute the door opens and a guard can be seen pulling Larmond away from the attackers.
Waiting for backup before intervening was the right move because Larmond was not in danger of dying, said Gareth Jones, a member of the executive board for the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU).
“When I look at the video, as someone who has worked from within the system, it was a textbook example of handling the situation,” Jones said.
“Once you crack that door you need to control the situation or you could lose the whole [jail].”
But Jones said releasing the video without blurring the images of the corrections officers put their lives in danger.
He cited an investigation by the Justice Officials Protection and Investigations Service – a 16-member OPP unit that investigates threat made against justice officials – that found threats had been made against staff at the Ottawa jail.
Carlos Larmond and his twin brother Ashton were arrested by the RCMP in January after allegedly attempting to travel overseas for terrorist purposes. Both have been charged with participation in the activity of a terrorist group and for attempting to leave Canada to participate in terrorist activity abroad.
Jones said there was RCMP and CSIS involvement in arresting the Larmond brothers and more care should have been taken before releasing the video due to the nature of the charges.
“The Ministry dropped the ball. They should have had someone in that courtroom. There were serious and credible threats against their staff,” Jones said.
“Nobody connected the dots and thought, ‘Oh my goodness this might identify the staff members that were threatened.’”
Paolo Giancaterino, the lawyer representing Wilson, said Larmond had tried to convert his client to Islam on several occasions prior to the attack, threatening to kill him and harm his family when he resisted.
Global News has blurred the faces of the guards at the request of OPSEU.
The Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services said in a statement it would be “inappropriate to comment” as the matter is before the courts.
Jones has worked as a guard for 27 years in Ontario and said he and his family have been threatened by members of organized crime.
“The first time I came home and I said to my spouse, ‘We might in danger here,’ – it’s a really tough spot to be in,” he said.
“If you put yourself in the situation of the officers and their families, it is just crap.”