The coroner’s inquest into the death of Curtis Cozart heard there were delays in attending to him the night he was found hanging in his cell at the Saskatchewan Penitentiary in May 2017.
The 30-year-old Cozart was found unresponsive in his cell shortly after 11 p.m. on May 23 and died the next day in Victoria Hospital.
The Prince Albert inquest heard the corrections officer who initially noticed he may be hanging in his cell during a security check was not wearing a radio and had to run for help.
Corrections officers then had to retrieve what is called a “911 tool” to cut Cozart down from the ligature he was hanging from upon entering the cell.
There was also about a four-minute delay between when he was first observed hanging and a 911 call was made.
Officers tried to revive Cozart though CPR and an automated external defibrillator before paramedics arrived at 11:16 p.m. but were unsuccessful.
The inquest also heard it was not uncommon for corrections officers working the night shift at the penitentiary to not be carrying their radios.
Since the incident, regulations have been more strictly enforced and guards are required to carry radios at all times.
A Correctional Service Canada official testified guards are required to carry 911 tools during the night shift, which runs from 11:05 p.m. to 7 a.m., but not at other times.
More than one corrections officer testified they were unaware of this policy.
It was also noted Cozart made more than 31 outgoing phone calls in the hours before he was found unresponsive in his cell.
He was successful in completing 13 of these calls.
On Monday, Constable Troy Antal of the Prince Albert RCMP’s general investigation section testified his investigation determined Cozart died as the result of a suicide attempt with no foul play involved.
Antal said Cozart was the lone occupant in his cell, did not have conflicts with other inmates and what appeared to be a suicide note was found in his journal.
The inquest also heard it appears the ligature found around Cozart’s neck had been cut from a blanket in the cell with a blade that had been removed from a safety razor.
The inquest is being overseen by coroner Tim Hawyrluk.
(PHOTO: Courtesy Curtis Cozart Facebook page.)