Corey Rogers died in a Halifax Regional Police dry cell on June 15, 2016, after he was arrested outside the IWK hospital, where his daughter had recently been born.
Officers had put a spit hood over his head after he became agitated outside the police station – the medical examiner said he died after choking on his own vomit.
Daniel Fraser and Cheryl Gardner, two booking officers who were responsible for keeping watch of him, were found guilty of criminal negligence in 2019.
However, the Court of Appeal later overturned that decision and ordered a new trial, saying the judge erred in his instructions to the jury.
On Thursday, both officers were acquitted.
“I was absolutely disgusted and aggravated,” said Jeanette Rogers, a day after the decision was handed down by Justice James Chipman.
“It just didn’t make sense to me.”
In his decision, Justice Chipman said, “given all of the evidence, it cannot be said that the spit hood was a contributing factor on a criminal standard” due to Corey Rogers’ blood-alcohol content at the time. He added that in hindsight, both of the accused made poor calls in not sending Rogers to hospital.
Jeanette Rogers says she didn’t see the verdict coming.
“The way (Justice Chipman) was talking he almost sounded like he was going to find them guilty,” she said. “But then at the end when he said they were acquitted I said, “Good Lord!”
The mother says the past six years have been remarkably difficult and she feels the justice system isn’t accounting for her feelings.
“(Justice Chipman) said, ‘Oh, they’ve waited almost six years now and it’s so hard on them,’ but what did he think it was for me?” Jeanette Rogers said.
It’s still unclear whether the Crown will file an appeal. In the meantime, Rogers says she needs to step away from the courtroom and focus on herself.
“I guess I’m probably going to try and rest a bit and hopefully get better from the PTSD. Yesterday didn’t help,” she said.
– with files from The Canadian Press