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.
Const. Nicholas Doering was charged with criminal negligence causing death and failing to provide the necessaries of life in the 2016 death of Debra Chrisjohn.
Superior Court Justice Renee Pomerance found Doering guilty on both charges Friday, prompting Chirsjohn’s family and supporters to cheer the verdict and break into tears.
“With what happened today, as a family, we feel we can start the healing process with no interruptions,” Chrisjohn’s sister Brittany said outside the courthouse following the verdict.
Sister Cindy Chrisjohn said she was still processing Friday’s events.
“I miss my sister a lot, and it’s been hard,” she said while fighting back tears. “I’m just happy with the verdict today.”
Doering had arrested Chrisjohn, 39, on Sept. 7, 2016, after she was found trying to get into vehicles in the area of Highbury Avenue and Trafalgar Street.
The OPP had an outstanding arrest warrant for Chrisjohn, a resident of Oneida of the Thames First Nation and mother to 11. London police had arrested her the previous day but left her at the hospital after the OPP declined to pick her up until she was medically cleared, the court heard.
Doering drove Chrisjohn to a south-end Tim Hortons and turned her over to two Elgin County OPP officers, McKillop and Const. Ashleigh Billing, who took her into custody.
Paramedics didn’t assess Chrisjohn, the court heard, and Doering told his OPP counterparts during the handover that she’d been medically cleared.
St. Thomas paramedics were called to the Elgin OPP detachment on John Wise Line for a patient needing a medical assessment for a possible overdose. Two paramedics arrived and were directed to a cell where a motionless Chrisjohn was lying on her side on the floor, breathing irregularly, the court heard.
After determining Chrisjohn was at risk of going into cardiac arrest, the paramedics placed her on a stretcher and rushed her to the hospital where she died. A post-mortem showed Chrisjohn died from cardiac arrest connected to crystal meth use, the court heard.
Extra chairs had to be used Friday to accommodate the large crowd, including around 30 police officers, most of them in civilian clothing, who packed an 11th-floor courtroom for the decision.
Some of Chrisjohn’s family had previously expressed feelings of intimidation by the large police presence, but Brittany Chrisjohn said the officers in attendance didn’t bother her.
“I know my sister, my father, my mother, their spirits are here with us, and that gave me more comfort than anyone else’s appearance (in court),” she said.