Mother of Corey Rogers reacts to doctor's letter about jail-cell death conviction
SYDNEY -- A Cape Breton doctor is speaking out about the conditions medical staff have to deal with in emergency rooms.
A public letter he's written raises questions about the case of two special constables with the Halifax Regional Police who were convicted in a man's jail-cell death.
This past week has been filled with mixed emotions for Jeannette Rogers.
Her son, Corey Rogers, died in a Halifax jail cell, and his death was the subject of a recent trial in which two special constables were convicted.
Over the weekend, a letter to the editor of the Saltwire Network was written by a Cape Breton doctor who was upset by that conviction.
Cape Breton physician Chris Milburn says he's concerned for his own safety and his colleagues.
He says dealing with people who are intoxicated or uncooperative and deciding whether to keep them in hospital or send them to jail is a lose-lose situation. He also says he's been physically threatened while working.
"I've made this call hundreds of times," Milburn said. "So far nothing bad has happened to me, but it will. Am I the next one going to jail? I don't know."
Special constables Cheryl Gardner and Daniel Fraser were found guilty of criminal negligence in the death of Rogers.
Both were working as booking officers on 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.
A spit hood was placed on him and he was put in a Halifax jail cell. A few hours later he was found dead, after vomiting and suffocating with the spit hood on.
"That's what the trial was about," Rogers said. "The fact that no one took that spit hood off. It had nothing to do with violence."
Milburn admits the system isn't perfect, but he says whether a person is taken to hospital or to jail is a decision that has to be made quickly. He says he felt strongly enough about the verdict he had to speak out. He also understands why Rogers' mother would be upset with his comments.
"I think she really needs to think hard about whether these people were truly evil people who wanted her son to die or were they people trying to do the job to the best of their ability," Milburn said.
Rogers says she can understand the doctor's point of view, but she says the jury's decision backs up her feeling that her son wasn't properly cared for. She also points out the police officers in the case were disciplined.
"Alcoholism isn't a crime, it's an illness, and it's an illness that shouldn't be punishable by death," said Rogers.