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N.S. woman says son's police-cell death showed 'callous disregard for humanity'
The mother of a man who died while in Halifax Regional Police cells last year is speaking out about her son’s death, saying it showed a callous disregard for humanity.
Corey Rogers was arrested for public intoxication the night of June 15, 2016. The 41-year-old man was found unresponsive in a police cell three-and-a-half hours later. Attempts to revive him were unsuccessful.
“My son was an alcoholic, but alcoholism is an illness, not a crime, and it certainly shouldn’t be punishable by death,” says his mother, Jeannette Rogers.
Rogers has seen video footage from the police station. She says officers put a spit hood – which prevents people from spitting on police officers – on her son and that he was put in a cell with the covering over his head.
“If he had been conscious and coherent, he could have taken that spit hood off himself,” she says. “Plus, once he was in that cell, what danger was there of spitting at anyone?”
Rogers says she has been told her son’s cause of death was asphyxiation, and she believes the presence of a spit hood was a factor in his death.
“It is bad enough to lose a son, a child, but to have it happen this way and deal with everything that goes on with that, it is excruciating.”
Nova Scotia’s Serious Incident Response Team is investigating the incident, and Rogers says part of her pain is waiting for the investigation to be complete.
SIRT Director Ron MacDonald says the case is a complex one and it could still take several months before he completes his investigation.
“As a result, yes, it is taking a long time, but we are doing that to ensure we come to the best conclusion we can,” says MacDonald.
The Manitoba Prosecution Service has been asked to provide legal advice to SIRT as it investigates, after the Nova Scotia Public Prosecution Service flagged a conflict of interest.
“It is very important for the public to have confidence in the Public Prosecution Service, so we want to be sure that we protected that,” says Chris Hansen of the Nova Scotia Public Prosecution Service.
Halifax Regional Police say officers in the prisoner care facility are provided with training on the use of spit hoods.
Meanwhile, Rogers is advocating for change and calling on Nova Scotia’s justice minister to hold an inquiry. She says it won’t help her son, or his four children who have to grow up without him, but it could help someone else.
“Just so things like this don’t continue to happen.”
With files from CTV Atlantic's Kelland Sundahl