London police officer found guilty of negligence in Indigenous woman's death
LONDON, Ont. -- A London police officer charged in the death of Debra Chrisjohn has been found guilty of failing to provide the necessaries of life and criminal negligence causing death.
Ontario Superior Court Justice Renee Pomerance handed down her decision in the trial of Const. Nicholas Doering in a London courtroom on Friday.
In her decision she pointed to the fact that Chrisjohn's death could have been prevented had she received timely medical intervention.
The Ontario's Special Investigations Unit had alleged that Doering interacted with Chrisjohn sometime between her arrest on Sept. 6, 2016, and her death later that night.
Chrisjohn, 39, was arrested at the scene of a traffic obstruction in London. The mother of 11 was high on methamphetamine and out of control.
She was taken into custody after police found she was wanted on an outstanding warrant in Elgin County for failing to comply with a recognizance.
Chrisjohn died after being transferred from the custody of London police to the OPP by Doering to answer the outstanding charge.
The court heard that over the course of 45 minutes she went from yelling and screaming to moaning. She eventually died of cardiac arrest due to the drugs.
Pomerance said in her decision that Doering, "demonstrated a marked departure from the standard of care of a reasonably prudent police officer" and was not concerned with her condition.
She added that Doering "demonstrated a wanton and reckless diregard for Ms. Chrisjohn's life," when he provided the OPP with "erroneous and incomplete information" about her condition.
Doering remains on the force, according to the London Police Service, which says it will review the judge's decision before considering his job status.
A date for a sentencing hearing will be set on Nov. 12.
Family reacts to verdict
Debra's sister Brittany Chrisjohn says, "With what happened today, as a family we feel like we can start the healing process with no interruption."
While Pomerance told the court Indigenous women are vulnerable to certain stereotypes involving drugs and alcohol, Brittany says despite her sister's cultural background, this case is strictly about addiction and medical attention.
"This could happen to anybody, anybody's family that this could have happened to, regardless of their indigeneity or not or anything, it could happen to anybody's family."
Family and friends held a smudging ceremony outside the courthouse just minutes after the guilty verdicts were handed down.
Brittany says, "I kind of just miss all our family being together. And I know that she's very loved and that she loved her kids more than anything in the world."
- With files from CTV London's Nick Paparella and The Canadian Press