Danielle Stephanie Warriner is dead because she didn’t wear a COVID-19 mask.
The virus didn’t get her. She didn’t test COVID-19 positive.
The enforcement of a policy — that many medical experts disputed the efficacy of even in the eye of the pandemic’s storm — is why she died at Toronto General Hospital in 2020. Period.
Criminal charges have been dropped against two security guards who tackled and restrained Warriner when she refused to slip a mask up from her chin over her mouth.
Their May 2023 trial is cancelled. And they get to keep their jobs.
Nonetheless, their actions captured briefly on video — before one guard panned the camera away to conceal what was happening — are disturbing, particularly the haunting last few moments when they wheel her limp body to an elevator.
A primary role of role of security guards is to de-escalate situations. The video, posted by the CBC after a perplexing publication ban was lifted when charges were dropped, shows the opposite may have happened. The security guards were determined to enforce the mask policy. It was only one sick symptom of federal and provincial government enforced mandates that may have given Canadians a false sense of security in protection against the virus.
Mandates divided Canadians, stripped us of dignity and free choice. Those who questioned or defied mandated masks were attacked, fined, quarantined, and evicted from long-awaited medical appointments and public facilities.
Mask advocates smugly and heartily endorsed the crackdown on relatives, neighbors, and strangers.
Even now, on social media some blame Warriner, who was 43, for her death because she defied the rule. It doesn’t matter that Warriner may have chosen not to wear a suffocating mask because she was coughing and having difficulty breathing. That’s why Warriner, who suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD, was in the hospital on May 10, 2020.
Four beefy security guards approached her sitting in that wheelchair by a pillar in the lobby with no one else nearby. They were, it appears, ordering her to raise her mask. They were doing their jobs — enforce a government-imposed mask mandate. She refused.
What ensued was a brief encounter with at least two security guards. As a result of what transpired, Warriner lost consciousness, and never regained it. She died 16 days later.
Manslaughter and criminal negligence charges against guards, Amanda Rojas-Silva, 42, and Shane Hutley, 35, were quashed by Ontario Superior Court Justice Sean Dunphy on November 22 on the grounds that there wasn’t enough evidence to proceed with a trial.
Many have been quick to defend the security guards — poorly paid, tough jobs dealing with unruly people, etc. Well, OK. The security guards surely didn’t know Warriner would die.
But does the video show the absence of basic common sense? Yes, Warriner swore at them and said she’d have one fired. But this was no crazed, out-of-control, powerful lunatic posing a physical threat to anyone in the lobby.
It’s hard to say which is the most disturbing part of that three-minute video.
Was it when guard Amanda Rojas-Silva, out-muscling and outweighing the tiny woman wearing only a hospital gown, stood inches away seeming to give orders while aggressively waving her arm? That behaviour would agitate anyone and escalate a bad situation.
Or was it when Rojas-Silva tackled Warriner, who got up from her wheelchair to get away from her, and then pushed her behind a wall where she was handcuffed.
One guard testified at a preliminary hearing he “panicked” and got “really anxious,” so he turned the camera away. He made sure no one will ever see what he saw going on behind that wall.
The most haunting part of the video is after Warriner was rendered unconscious. She can be seen slumped over in the wheelchair while the four security guards take her down the hallway to the elevator.
They weren’t sauntering, but they certainly weren’t rushing to get an unconscious woman in obvious medical distress proper medical attention.
Rojas-Silva’s efforts to revive Warriner with chest compressions prior to that had failed.
Huntley later confessed to lying, when he said Warriner attacked them first.
Two security guards said Rojas-Silva put weight on Warriner’s upper body while she was held down. If that’s so, doesn’t their training caution against the risks of doing that?
A coroner’s report determined Warriner died because she suffered a brain injury from lack of oxygen “due to restraint asphyxia following struggle and exertion.”
But the judge determined no unnecessary force was used to restrain Warriner. And the Crown said it won’t appeal.
Warriner’s family launched a $16-million lawsuit against University Health Network and the guards involved.
Perhaps that will determine once and for all if the guards did the best they could, according to the rules, their training, and their ability.
Meanwhile, the government that did a masterful job of keeping us afraid and obedient will be held accountable to no one.
That’s even if it should be shown it readily handed power to enforcers — perhaps some with limited training and poor judgement — to do it’s bidding and keep us in line.