‘I have been given a life sentence’: Mother of Halifax man who died in police cells hopes for prison time
HALIFAX -- To say the last four years have been difficult for Jeannette Rogers would be an understatement.
“It’s been rough. No question about it and it will continue to be rough. I expect for the rest of my life,” says Rogers.
Jeannette’s son, Corey Rogers, died on June 15, 2016.
The 41-year-old Rogers was trying to visit his newborn baby at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax but was turned away because he was intoxicated.
Rogers was arrested outside the hospital and taken to the Halifax Regional Police headquarters, where a spit hood was placed on him and he was put inside a jail cell.
A few hours later, Rogers was dead. A medical examiner determined Rogers died of suffocation while lying in the cell with the spit hood covering his mouth as he appeared to be vomiting.
Special police constables Cheryl Gardner and Daniel Fraser were working the night Rogers died. Last November, they were convicted of criminal negligence causing death.
On Wednesday, a sentencing hearing took place for the pair.
Crown attorney Chris Vanderhooft asked Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice Kevin Coady for two-year prison sentences for Fraser and Gardner.
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."
"It's not about the individual offenders so much as the principles of deterrence and denunciation. And in both police cases and criminal negligence cases, those are the considerations that have to be paramount and for the protection of the public,” said Vanderhooft.
Jeannette would like to see Gardner and Fraser behind bars and thinks a two-year sentence is appropriate.
“The charge could carry a sentence of up to life in prison, but I don’t want to ruin someone’s life, even though they ruined mine,” said Jeannette. “I guess I forgive them. Not for them, but for me.”
Inside the courtroom, Jeannette read an emotional victim impact statement.
“Try to imagine living the rest of your life without one of your children,” she read. “If you can imagine that then you have a small idea what I go through every single day without Corey. I have been given a life sentence.”
While the Crown is looking for a period of two years incarceration, the defence is hoping to avoid prison.
"Defence counsel is suggesting a community based disposition and no jail. Normally, that's by way of a suspended sentence or a fine, accompanied with probation. And any community service would be attached to a probation order. So, their submission is to seek a suspended sentence in this case, therefore avoiding a jail sentence,” explained Vanderhooft.
Gardner and Fraser both addressed the court at the hearing, offering their condolences to Corey Rogers’ family and saying if they knew then what they know now, they would have done things differently.
The pair are currently suspended with pay from the Halifax Regional Police.
The judge presiding over the case has reserved his decision on sentencing until Monday.