Former security guard at B.C. university found guilty of manslaughter

On an afternoon in the fall of 2020, a man wearing all black wandered through student residences at Trinity Western University in Langley, B.C., and rifled through some students’ rooms.

When he was confronted by a security guard, the man, Howard Glen Hill, hit the guard, Jack Cruthers Hutchison, in the head, pulled his hair and spat on him.

Police arrived on campus to find Hill in a neck restraint, limp and unresponsive. He died in hospital two days later.

Now, a B.C. Supreme Court judge has found Hutchison guilty of manslaughter in the incident. He’s scheduled to be sentenced on May 9.

Justice Catherine Murray ruled on Friday that Hutchison’s use of a headlock to restrain Hill for up to 13 minutes wasn’t always reasonable or proportionate to the circumstances.

Students ‘fearful for their safety’

Hill was experiencing schizophrenia and had not taken his medication for about five months during the time of the incident, according to the judge.

Court heard he was mumbling and talking to himself as he walked through student residences.

“Students were troubled by Mr. Hill’s presence in their residence,” wrote Murray. “Some students were fearful for their safety or the safety of their belongings.”

Hutchison was chasing after Hill when he saw him make a beeline across a field toward a student, Murray said. That’s when Hutchison tackled Hill to the ground and put him in a headlock.

A closeup of the side of an SUV shows the RCMP crest and the words "RCMP GRC," "Police" and "Canada."
Langley RCMP arrived on campus after Jack Hutchison had kept Howard Hill in a headlock for 11 to 13 minutes, according to Justice Catherine Murray. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

Hill moved his legs to try to kick or knee Hutchison, pulled the security guard’s hair and tried to headbutt him, court heard.

‘He could not breathe’

Hutchison punched Hill in the face multiple times and asked a student nearby to call police.

Hutchison testified that he was acting in self defence and the defence of others and that the force he used was reasonable in all the circumstances.

The judge found Hutchison’s decision to take Hill to the ground and restrain him was reasonable and in fact “the only way he could ensure the safety of the students.”

But Murray said the nature of the incident changed in the 11 to 13 minutes that Hutchison had Hill in a neck restraint. Several students testified they heard Hill tell Hutchison multiple times that “he could not breathe,” according to Murray.

A resident director, who was sitting on Hill’s legs to help keep him down, got off of him when he felt he was no longer resisting, Murray said.

“Several witnesses that were watching from a distance … also saw that Mr. Hill was no longer moving,” the judge said.

“At some point, it was clear that Mr. Hill was no longer a threat to anyone.”

A red wall with "Trinity" written in white letters.
Trinity Western University says Hutchison is no longer employed at the school. (CBC)

Security guard no longer works at TWU

Hutchison started working as a security guard at TWU in 2016, court heard. Before working as a security guard, he practised martial arts, including Muay Thai, Krav Maga and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, for many years. 

He testified that neck restraints are a common tactic in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. 

He told the judge that he was aware that restraining someone by the neck was dangerous and said he maintained an airway for Hill while restraining him and eased off on the pressure he was applying when Hill was not resisting.

But Justice Murray said the fact remains that Hutchison kept Hill in a headlock for a “prolonged” period of time without carefully monitoring his condition. 

“A reasonable person in these circumstances, with some of the same qualities and experiences as Mr. Hutchison would make sure that Mr. Hill was not being grievously injured while restraining him in a potentially dangerous hold,” Murray said.

TWU says Hutchison is no longer employed at the school. 

“The university has no comment on the court ruling. TWU’s commitment has always been to safeguard our campus community, and we continue to provide a safe place of learning for all our students,” a university spokesperson told CBC News in a statement.


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