It should go without saying that a person typically goes to a hospital in order to… you know, get better.
Sadly, this was not the case for Stephanie Warriner back in May 2020.
Stephanie was a patient at Toronto General Hospital. The 43-year-old mother of five suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lived with bipolar disorder. But Stephanie’s stay at Toronto General turned into a death sentence for her after she had an altercation with a pair of security guards. They confronted Stephanie for not wearing her mask properly — even though she was en route to the hospital’s cafeteria for a snack (in which case she would have had to remove the mask entirely in order to eat and drink).
But the guards didn’t care about that. They were seemingly hellbent on teaching Stephanie a lesson in mask etiquette. As the situation escalated, the security video shows Stephanie struggling to breathe. But instead of getting a doctor, the guards pushed Stephanie against the wall, then pushed her to the ground, and then they restrained her. Fast-forward 16 days later, and Stephanie was dead.
That is the tragic element of the Stephanie Warriner story. But there is another part to this story as well: injustice. Because everyone involved in the death of Stephanie Warriner has escaped any sort of penalty.
Indeed, even though there is both video and eyewitness evidence, Justice Sean Dunphy dismissed charges of manslaughter and criminal negligence causing death against Amanda Rojas-Silva and Shane Hutley, the two security guards who manhandled Stephanie.
Security guard Kyle Bryson was also found not guilty. Bryson was the guard operating the surveillance camera, and when the altercation occurred, Bryson actually pointed the camera AWAY from the assault.
Indeed, check out the transcript of a preliminary hearing for the manslaughter case in which Bryson was questioned on the witness stand by assistant Crown attorney Brent Kettles.
Kettles: “At any point did you move the camera away from the incident?”
Bryson: “I did.”
Kettles: “Why did you do that?”
Bryson: “I had really bad anxiety, and … when I saw Ms. Rojas go toward the patient, like run toward the patient, I guess you could say, against the wall, I panicked, I blanked out, I just – things bothered me, I guess. I’m not really a hands-on type of person and I was just – my anxiety went through the roof and I just turned quickly. I didn’t have any sort – I had a couple of moments to like think about it, but like not long enough.”
Kettles: “So, what was it about this interaction that made you anxious?”
Bryson: “I guess the fact, that I didn’t know what was happening. That the patient may or may not have had COVID . . . My colleagues — well, at least Amanda that I saw at the time was there, and I was worried, I was worried about what could happen … I was worried what could happen to the patient or my colleagues.”
Kettles: “What bothered you about it?
Bryson: “Just the use of force part of it, I guess.”
Incredibly, not only are these three security guards not behind bars, but they are still gainfully employed at Toronto General Hospital!
We reached out to Toronto General Hospital spokeswoman Gillian Howard. Her only comment was the following: “UHN [University Health Network] will not comment on decision from the court or a case before the courts and does not comment on individual employment or discipline.”
But as much as the UHN wants this story to go away, that’s not going to happen. Recently Stephanie’s sister, Denise Warriner-Smith, filed a $16 million lawsuit against UHN and the security guards she believes were responsible for her sister’s death. Check out our interview with Denise as she continues her quest for justice.