As final arguments close in trial for Corey Rogers’ death, his mother says Halifax police failed her son

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Corey Rogers’ mother says Halifax police failed her son
WATCH: The mother of Corey Rogers is speaking to reporters as lawyers wrap up their final arguments in the case against two special constables charged in Rogers’ death. Jesse Thomas has more – Nov 7, 2019

The mother of a man who died in Halifax police custody three years ago says that the force failed her son.

Jeannette Rogers spoke to reporters as lawyers wrapped up their final arguments on Thursday.

Special Const. Cheryl Gardner and Special Const. Daniel Fraser are on trial at Nova Scotia Supreme Court for criminal negligence causing the death of Corey Rogers on June 16, 2016.

Special constables are civilians appointed to specialized duties, including the booking of prisoners.

READ MORE: Officer says she noticed nothing unusual with Corey Rogers, who died in Halifax jail cell

Rogers admits her son battled with alcoholism and was well-known to police, but says he didn’t deserve to die in a Halifax jail cell.

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“It happened once. It can happen again,” she said.

Defence lawyers for Gardner and Fraser told the jury on Thursday that the booking officers were innocent because they lacked the proper training and that there was no policy when it came to the use of spit hoods.

Rogers was carried into the booking by the arresting officers who laid him on the floor at about 11 p.m. on June 15.

Corey Rogers lies on the floor under police custody at the Halifax police station, wearing a spit hood at about 11 p.m. on June 15, 2016 in this still image taken from surveillance video provided by Nova Scotia Courts. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Province of Nova Scotia Courts

The Halifax resident was in custody for being drunk in a public place after he rapidly downed a half-bottle of whiskey outside a children’s hospital the day after his child was born.

He was placed in a holding cell. His handcuffs were removed but a spit hood placed over his face remained.

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Fraser and Gardner said they had never removed a spit hood from a prisoner.

Fraser said that prisoners usually removed it themselves, while Gardner believed there was no danger in wearing one — despite a warning on the package.

A medical examiner told the court that Corey Rogers died from asphyxiation due to suffocation from vomit that was trapped in the spit hood he was wearing.

Click to play video: 'Final arguments to be heard in Halifax special constables trial'
Final arguments to be heard in Halifax special constables trial

Rogers said that the officers failed her son right from the moment he was arrested.

“No one took care to make sure that he was all right, and they call it the prisoner care facility but in Corey’s case there had been none,” she said.

Gardner’s lawyer, Ron Pizzo, has argued that the demands of the job and the rigorous guidelines for completing cell checks were not possible to perform alone.

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Pizzo said the cell checks that Gardner made that night were consistent with what any other booking officer would have done.

Crown Prosecutor Chris Vanderhooft argued that Corey Rogers wasn’t playing possum like the booking officers assumed. Rather, Corey Rogers was highly intoxicated and needed medical care.

READ MORE: Halifax constable testifies he wasn’t required to enter cell to check on inmate who died

Vanderhooft said that had the booking officers followed policy and performed a so-called “Four-R” observation checklist — rousing the prisoner, checking their response to questions, assessing their response to commands and remembering to take into account the possibility of other illnesses — the spit hood would have been removed and there would have been no need for a trial.

Judge Kevin Coady will deliver the charges to the jury on Friday morning and a verdict will be left in the hands of the jury.

— With files from The Canadian Press

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