Mother calls for strict sentence in son’s 2016 death in Halifax jail cell

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The mother of a man who died in a Halifax police jail cell in June 2016 has asked a judge to impose the “strictest penalty possible” on two special police constables found guilty of criminal negligence in his death.

In her victim impact statement read during a sentencing hearing today, Jeannette Rogers said she is seeking a strict penalty because living every day without her son is like a “life sentence without the possibility of parole.”

A medical examiner determined Corey Rogers, who was intoxicated, died of suffocation while lying in the cell with the spit hood covering his mouth as he appeared to be vomiting.

Crown attorney Chris Vanderhooft asked Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice Kevin Coady for two-year prison sentences for Daniel Fraser and Cheryl Gardner, who were found guilty by a jury last November of criminal negligence causing death.

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Vanderhooft says both failed in their duty of care by not seeking medical attention for Rogers and the sentence should reflect the principles of “denunciation and deterrence.”

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The defence is expected to make its sentencing submission to the judge later today.

During the trial the jury was shown video of Rogers, 41, heaving in a cell while wearing the spit hood. The mask prevents prisoners from spitting on guards, but also comes with instructions warning against leaving it on a highly intoxicated person who may vomit.

Hours before his death, Rogers was arrested outside a Halifax children’s hospital where his wife had given birth to their child the day before.

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Evidence was presented during the trial that he was extremely impaired after rapidly drinking half a bottle of whisky and that police saw him consume the liquor.

The police officers who arrested Rogers testified they placed the hood on his face after he was spitting in the police car as he was driven to the station.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published August 12, 2020.

© 2020 The Canadian Press

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