Jury hears final arguments in trial of Halifax special constables
Published Thursday, November 7, 2019 9:06PM AST
Last Updated Thursday, November 7, 2019 9:21PM AST
HALIFAX -- The jury heard final arguments Thursday in the trial of two special constables charged with criminal negligence in the death of a man in a Halifax jail cell.
Booking officers Dan Fraser and Cheryl Gardner are accused of not providing the proper checks while the intoxicated man was in their custody.
Both have pleaded not guilty to criminal negligence causing death.
The jury has watched hours of video that was recorded that night in the police cells after Corey Rogers was arrested for public intoxication outside the IWK Health Centre on June 15, 2016.
Rogers was placed in a jail cell while still wearing a spit hood. Court heard he died from suffocation after vomiting into the spit hood.
David Bright, the defence lawyer for Fraser, told the jury that Rogers was "playing possum," by passively resisting.
He detailed the dangers of being a booking officer, and said Fraser did his job the way he was told to.
Ron Pizzo, the defence lawyer for Gardner, said the special constable was never trained on how to use or remove a spit hood.
When she checked on Rogers, she wasn't required to enter his cell, and she performed her duties appropriately, he told the court.
Crown Attorney Chris Vanderhooft was firm in pushing the jury to convict both Gardner and Fraser.
He told the jury they didn't properly check the 'four Rs' -- rousing the prisoner, checking responses to both questions and commands, and remembering other illnesses.
He said that Fraser reported checks that never happened.
He said Gardner should have been more thorough.
"I can't imagine anybody treating an animal like that, never mind a human being," said Rogers' mother, Jeannette Rogers, outside court.
For her, sitting through the trial has been hard.
"Difficult at best, impossible at times, but it's important," she said.
The jury will meet with the judge Friday morning for final instructions before they start their deliberations.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Emily Baron Cadloff.