'I'm hurt': Mother of Corey Rogers angry as special constables avoid prison time in son's death
HALIFAX -- A Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge has imposed a suspended sentence on two special constables convicted in connection with the jail-cell death of Corey Rogers.
"After a great deal of consideration, I've concluded that the goals of denunciation and general deterrence can be achieved without incarceration. Consequently, I'm suspending the passing of sentence and placing both defendants under probation for three years,” Justice Kevin Coady said Monday afternoon.
A jury found Cheryl Gardner and Dan Fraser guilty in November of criminal negligence causing death.
The pair was working as booking officers at the Halifax Regional Police station the night of June 15, 2016.
That night, Rogers tried to visit his newborn baby at the IWK Health Centre, but was turned away because he was intoxicated.
Rogers was arrested outside the Halifax children’s hospital and taken to police headquarters, where a spit hood was placed on him and he was put in a cell. A few hours later, Rogers was dead.
A medical examiner determined that Rogers died from asphyxiation after he appeared to vomit while wearing the spit hood.
His mother, Jeannette Rogers, was disappointed by the sentence.
"I’m angry, more so than anything, I'm angry and I'm hurt. I really feel that justice wasn't served with this sentence,” she said outside court.
"I feel that they should have had some jail time. I've said all along that I'm not out to destroy someone's life even though they've destroyed mine. However, I do feel that they should have gotten some jail time. To me, it says that Corey's life was not worth anything.”
Under the law, the maximum sentence for criminal negligence causing death is life in prison. At a sentencing hearing last week, Crown attorney Chris Vanderhooft asked Coady for two-year prison sentences for Fraser and Gardner.
Vanderhooft said 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,” he said at the time.
The defence had been hoping to avoid prison time for Gardner and Fraser, instead asking the judge to impose a suspended sentence.
Ultimately, Coady sided with the defence and imposed a suspended sentence on the pair.
As part of the suspended sentence, Gardner and Fraser must keep the peace and be of good behaviour, attend court if and when required, report to a probation officer and attend any assessment, counselling or treatment they are directed to, as well as complete 200 hours of community service.
"If they should in fact breach the law in any way, they could be brought back and resentenced on this particular charge, so essentially, this is being held over their head for the next three years,” said defence lawyer Joel Pink.
Halifax Regional Police emailed a statement in response to a query from CTV Atlantic.
"We can confirm that the two members currently remain suspended with pay, pending review and consideration of our legal and workplace obligations. We recognize the seriousness of the convictions in this matter – and we can confirm that we are in the process of determining next steps related to our internal disciplinary measures. Our deepest sympathies remain with Mr. Rogers' family and everyone impacted by this tragic incident."