Hearing to review Halifax police actions before lockup cell death delayed 2 days

Click to play video: 'Police review board delays hearing in 2018 cell death appeal'
Police review board delays hearing in 2018 cell death appeal
WATCH: In Halifax, the Nova Scotia police review board is hearing a complaint brought by the mother of a man who died in police custody. Corey Rogers’ mother is questioning whether the arresting officers were adequately disciplined. Jesse Thomas has more. – Nov 2, 2020

A hearing to examine the actions of three Halifax police officers who arrested a man who later died from suffocation in a detention cell has been delayed for two days.

The Nova Scotia Police Review Board was set to begin a hearing today in an appeal launched by Corey Rogers‘ mother, Jeannette Rogers, regarding the disciplinary decisions of the Halifax police force after her son’s death in June 2016.

The hearing had previously been delayed due to the trial of two booking officers, special constables Daniel Fraser and Cheryl Gardner, who were found guilty of criminal negligence last November in Rogers’ death.

Read more: Crown appeals suspended sentence for two Halifax constables found guilty in 2016 inmate death

Click to play video: 'Jury finds Halifax special constables guilty of criminal negligence in death of Corey Rogers'
Jury finds Halifax special constables guilty of criminal negligence in death of Corey Rogers

On Monday, board chairman Simon MacDonald granted Rogers until Wednesday morning to attempt to find legal counsel. He noted the case had been delayed before and that Rogers had been advised in the past that she should attempt to find a lawyer to advise her.

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During the booking officers’ trial, a medical examiner testified Rogers, 41, died of suffocation while lying in a cell overnight on June 15, 2016, with a spit hood covering his mouth as he appeared to be vomiting.

A spit hood is a covering over the face designed to stop someone from spitting or biting.

The three arresting officers, constables Ryan Morris, Donna Lee Paris and Justin Murphy, brought the intoxicated man to the cells from outside a Halifax hospital where his wife had given birth to their child the day before.


Click to play video: 'Corey Rogers’ mother says Halifax police failed her son'
Corey Rogers’ mother says Halifax police failed her son

The police force was unable to comment by deadline on what the findings of its internal review were, and a spokesman said it would be inappropriate to comment on other aspects of the case as it is getting underway.

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Rogers said in a telephone interview on Friday that she hopes the hearing will determine what role the officers played and whether they met standards outlined in the Nova Scotia Police Act regulations.

The regulations include requirements that officers act in a manner that doesn’t bring discredit to the force and that they consider the health and safety of prisoners and refrain from the use of excessive force or cruelty.

‘I’m looking for them to lose their badges’

Rogers said at the criminal trial it was unclear when the police officers had responsibility for her son’s well-being and when responsibility shifted to the booking officers. “I want to get to the bottom of that,” Rogers said.

She said the arresting officers put the spit hood on her son, “so they should be the ones to take it off.”

Read more: Mother calls for strict sentence in son’s 2016 death in Halifax jail cell

She also said the arresting officers should have warned the booking officers they’d witnessed Rogers drinking a from a bottle of liquor, and they could have recommended that he be taken to the emergency ward for monitoring.

“I’m looking for them to lose their badges,” she said.

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Rogers said she is proceeding with the complaint despite finding the process emotionally painful because she wants improvements in the system of caring for intoxicated prisoners.

“I’m hoping changes can be made so no other family would have to go through this,” she said.

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