'Discouraged and disgusted': Sentencing delayed for constables convicted in jail-cell death
HALIFAX -- The mother of a man who died in a Halifax jail cell almost four years ago says she is angry it is taking so long to get justice for her son.
In November, two special constables were found guilty of criminal negligence causing the death of Corey Rogers.
Cheryl Gardner and Daniel Fraser were set to be sentenced on Friday, but the judge granted the defence’s request for an adjournment, and gave few details as to why.
It’s frustrating for Jeannette Rogers and her son, who both planned to read victim-impact statements in court.
“I’m totally discouraged and disgusted with the whole business. It’s taken way too long,” said Jeannette Rogers. “It’s been three-and-a-half years and it’s time something was finished. It’ll be almost four years by the time the sentencing is read.”
Corey Rogers was trying to visit his newborn baby the night of June 15, 2016, but he was turned away from the IWK Health Centre because he was intoxicated.
The 41-year-old man was arrested outside the children’s hospital and taken to the Halifax Regional Police station. A spit hood -- a mask used to prevent prisoners from spitting on guards -- was put on Rogers’ head and he was placed in a jail cell.
Rogers was found dead in his cell a few hours later and Gardner and Fraser, who had been working as booking officers at the police station the night he was arrested, were later arrested in his death.
During their trial, the Crown had argued the special constables failed to properly check Rogers' cell while he lay there, the spit hood still covering his face.
A medical examiner's report stated that Rogers' died from asphyxiation after apparently vomiting into the spit hood.
The defence had said the constables followed the usual procedures and had believed Rogers was asleep rather than unconscious, but the jury ultimately sided with the Crown, and found Gardner and Fraser guilty of criminal negligence causing death.
While Jeannette Rogers was relieved by the guilty verdict, she is frustrated it is taking so long for the case to come to a conclusion.
“It just doesn’t seem right that it should take that long,” she told CTV News outside the courtroom Friday. “I realize that the wheels of justice turn slowly, but this is ridiculous.”
She said it is especially frustrating for her son, who flew from Alberta to Halifax so he could read his victim-impact statement in court.
“That’s not gonna happen today, so it’s a big inconvenience to him, especially,” she said.
The sentencing had been rescheduled for May 8, but she says her son won’t be able to fly to Halifax a second time, so he won’t be able to read his statement.
Meanwhile, Jeannette Rogers is hoping to arrange a meeting with Halifax Regional Police Chief Dan Kinsella to talk about spit hoods.
“I’m hoping that they get rid of the spit hoods altogether. I see no need for them,” she said.
“It makes absolutely no sense to me that you would put a hood over some intoxicated person’s head, who may or may not be agitated – in Corey’s case he wasn’t – and it seems to me it would make them more agitated, if anything, so it just doesn’t make sense.”