Two special constables with Halifax Regional Police have been charged with criminal negligence causing death after a 41-year-old man was found dead in a police station cell last year.
Corey Rogers was found unresponsive in a cell at Halifax police headquarters in the early-morning hours of June 16, 2016. Paramedics were called, but Rogers could not be revived.
Rogers had been arrested for public intoxication around 10:30 p.m. the previous evening outside the IWK Health Centre.
His mother, Jeannette Rogers, said his death came just hours after the birth of his daughter. "They're doing OK," she said. "His partner is now raising an almost 17-month child on her own."
The case was handed to Nova Scotia's Serious Incident Response Team (SIRT), which investigates serious allegations against police forces. SIRT in turn referred the case to prosecutors in Manitoba because the Nova Scotia Public Prosecution Service wanted to avoid any appearance of conflict.
"Wherever the investigation was taking them, it was getting too close for comfort for what, I guess, they felt was proper," said SIRT's acting director John Scott.
The two special constables, Daniel Fraser and Cheryl Gardner, were each charged Tuesday with criminal negligence causing death. Both were working as booking officers on the night of Rogers's arrest, SIRT said.
Special constables in the province are not police officers; they are civilians appointed to specialized duties.
'Duty' to evaluate
"The arrest and placing of Corey Rogers in cells creates a 'duty' on the booking officers of HRP to evaluate his medical condition prior to being placed in police cells and to be adequately observed ... for the purpose of maintaining his personal safety and well-being," SIRT said in its summary of the investigation.
"Corey Rogers, like any person place in police cells following an arrest, inherits this 'duty' regardless of his state of sobriety."
Halifax Regional Police said in a statement that the force would not be able to comment on the specifics of the "tragic incident" while it is before the courts, but extended condolences to Rogers's family.
"Proper care of those in custody in a priority for us, and as such, we review and enhance our practices and are confident in our employees' ability to appropriately manage the care of people in custody," the statement read.
Rogers's death had also been the subject of a Police Act investigation, but HRP said that has been put on hold pending the outcome of the criminal charges.
Jeannette Rogers said she has proposed restorative justice to police as a way to settle her son's case.
"I'm looking for changes to be made in their policies and the fact that they have to follow their policies," she said.
Police have yet to respond to her proposal, Rogers said.