The Halifax police review hearing into the jail cell death of Corey Rogers has once again been adjourned, but the move is welcomed by the complainant, Jeannette Rogers, who now has legal representation in her case against the Halifax police.
Rogers came into the review ready to represent herself, as she said she couldn’t afford the legal costs associated with the review board process, but soon realized that the task of going up against experienced lawyers representing the police would potentially jeopardize her case and her health.
The 70-year-old retired nurse suffers from PTSD that stems from the death of her son Corey Rogers who died in police custody in June 2016.
On Monday, Rogers returned to the police review board hearing with legal representatives from the law firm Burchells LLP beside her, and ready to take on her case pro-bono
“I’m feeling elated,” said Rogers. “It has taken a lot of stress off.”
Rogers filed a police complaint against the three arresting officers who took her son Corey into custody for public intoxication, while he was standing outside the IWK Health Centre, a children’s hospital in the city’s south end, where his girlfriend at the time had given birth to their child the day before.
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Rogers died later that night in a police holding cell from asphyxiation after vomiting into a spit hood that was left wearing.
Rogers wants the police officers, constables Donna Lee Paris, Ryan Morris and Justin Murphy, disciplined, saying she believes they failed in their duty to protect her son.
Her lawyers, meanwhile, agree and said the death was avoidable and are eager to take on the case.
“Once we realized what the situation was and that Jeannette didn’t have legal representation, it was a very easy decision to help,” said lawyer Jason Cooke, who agreed to take on the case pro-bono with lawyer Ashley Hamp-Gonsalves.
The policy review will now be adjourned until June 21st to allow Rogers new lawyers a chance to catch up on the matter, while Cooke believes this hearing could lead to systemic changes in the way the police handle individuals with addiction issues.
“What happened to Corey is completely tragic to Jeannette but it’s not just a one-off and there’s obviously systemic problems that need to be addressed and we can hopefully shine a small light on it but try to get some change,” said Cooke.
The police review was delayed earlier this year, as a criminal trial was underway.
Halifax police special constables Dan Fraser and Cheryl Gardner were found guilty by a jury of criminal negligence causing death in relation to rogers death.
Both officers are appealing that decision.