Mother of man who died in police cells says arresting officers treated too leniently

The mother of a Halifax man who died while in a Halifax police cell says she’s happy the Nova Scotia Police Review Board adjourned her appeal into the way the force disciplined the three arresting officers.

Corey Rogers was 41 when Halifax Regional Police arrested him in June 2016 for public intoxication outside the IWK Health Centre. He had a history of alcohol abuse and his partner had just given birth to his daughter. He died of asphyxiation three hours later inside Halifax police headquarters.

On Tuesday, lawyers for Rogers’s mom, JeannetteRafuse-Rogers, and the three arresting officers, Const. Donna Lee Paris, Const. Ryan Morris and Const. Justin Murphy, appeared before the Nova Scotia Police Review Board.

All four are appealing the disciplinary action. However, it’s unclear what that action was.

Halifax police said it cannot comment on whether any of the three officers were disciplined. Const. John MacLeod, who speaks for the force, said no one was suspended following an internal investigation.

Nova Scotia’s Serious Incident Response Team, which investigates serious allegations against police forces, also determined no criminal charges were warranted.

Jeannette Rafuse-Rogers is concerned the three Halifax police officers who arrested her son weren’t adequately disciplined. (Elizabeth Chiu/CBC)

Rafuse-Rogers said the officers who arrested her son were treated too leniently.

“They were the three arresting officers who carried him into the booking room and [dragged] him into cell number 5,” she said. “To be perfectly honest, I would like to see them lose their badges.”

The chair of the review board adjourned the hearing saying the details, if released to the public, could affect the outcome of a related criminal trial scheduled for October.

“That’s exactly what I wanted,” said Rafuse-Rogers on Tuesday.

Special constables Daniel Fraser and Cheryl Gardner, who were working as booking officers on the night of Rogers’s arrest, have been charged with criminal negligence.

Both are accused of “accepting Corey Rogers into custody without medical assessment, failing to adequately check on him, and leaving a spit hood on him,” according to court documents.

Corey Rogers died hours after his daughter was born. (Jeannette Rogers)

Spit hoods fit over the head of an inmate. They have mesh at the top so the wearer can see, and fabric covering the nose and mouth to catch spit or other bodily fluids.

Rafuse-Rogers believes the spit hood played a factor in her son’s death.

She said she’ll resume her appeal after the criminal proceedings.

“I don’t want to ever see another mother or family go through this. So if i can make a change to alleviate that, then that will be Corey’s legacy,” said Rafuse-Rogers.