Cindy Berry, the interim warden at Grand Valley in Ashley Smith's final months, testified Monday at Coroners Court in Toronto. She was questioned regarding how guards and middle managers managed the troubled teen.
Cindy Berry, the acting warden at the Kitchener institution from August to November 2007, took the witness stand Monday at the Toronto inquest into Ashley Smiths death.
Several witnesses, including Joanna Pauline, the deputy warden at the time, have already testified at the inquest that Berry
was responsible for orders that, in the end, caused guards to fatally delay entering Smiths cell on Oct. 19, 2007, while she
had a ligature tightly wrapped around her
Within minutes, she
choked to death.
The inquest heard Monday of instances before Ashleys death when guards who ran into Ashleys cell to remove ligatures with force were later criticized by Pauline, under authority from Berry
, for not withdrawing and reassessing the situation first.
But during a subsequent use-of-force review, Berry
, Pauline and another senior manager, after reviewing the incident reports from the guards involved and watching a video recording of the occurrence, concluded the situation didnt require the guards to enter Smiths cell.
Help us understand (given the guards reports) what caused you to conclude there wasnt a need to enter Ashleys cell, and that staff didnt retreat? coroners counsel Jocelyn Speyer asked Berry
relied more on the videotape than the officers reports and concluded the video indicated there was an opportunity to negotiate.
Speyer asked Berry
In hindsight (the incident report) should have been given equal weight, Berry
denied ever telling guards not to enter Smiths cell unless she
stopped breathing, saying that had she
heard such an order given at the time, she
would have corrected it.
said guards were told to look for signs of medical distress whether Ashley was moving and breathing, whether her
blood was circulating with breathing being a key component.
, who had training in use-of-force procedures at Corrections Canadas regional office before coming to Grand Valley
, was asked by Speyer if any guards expressed confusion about how to manage Ashley.
But when I did the use-of-force reviews, I did them in the way I was trained, Berry
Earlier in the day the inquest heard that before coming to Grand Valley
had prior experience in both the mens and womens correctional facilities, but that she
much preferred working with male offenders.
Asked why, Berry
said rules in mens prisons are more clearly defined.