Trial begins for two special constables charged in Halifax jail cell death
Criminal negligence causing death trial is expected to last about 10 days
The Crown opened its case Monday against two special constables charged with criminal negligence causing death after an intoxicated man died in a Halifax jail cell in 2016.
In his opening statement, prosecutor Chris Vanderhooft told the jury that Daniel Fraser and Cheryl Gardner failed to fulfil their duty to care for Corey Rogers.
The 41-year-old was arrested for public drunkenness and was later found unresponsive in the cell on June 16, 2016.
The Serious Incident Response Team, the province's independent police watchdog, filed the charges in November 2017.
Under the Criminal Code of Canada, criminal negligence is defined as completing or omitting any duty in a way that shows "wanton or reckless disregard" for the lives or safety of others.
Vanderhooft said the special constables failed to properly check on Rogers in his cell, and they didn't initially remove a spit hood that had been placed over Rogers' mouth.
On the night before he died, Rogers was arrested under the Liquor Control Act around 10:30 outside the IWK Health Centre in Halifax.
He was taken to police headquarters and placed in a cell after 11 p.m., according to a summary of the investigation by the Serious Incident Response Team.
Paramedics were called to the cells when Rogers was found unresponsive almost three hours later.
Special Constable Dan Fraser <a href="https://twitter.com/CourtsNS_NSSC?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@CourtsNS_NSSC</a> for the afternoon session of his criminal negligence trial. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/nscourt?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#nscourt</a> <a href="https://t.co/Gu3FDz2QlM">pic.twitter.com/Gu3FDz2QlM</a>—@CBCBlairRhodes
Special Constable Cheryl Gardner heads into <a href="https://twitter.com/CourtsNS_NSSC?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@CourtsNS_NSSC</a> for the afternoon session of her criminal negligence trial. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/nscourt?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#nscourt</a> <a href="https://t.co/CuTUNqAyCY">pic.twitter.com/CuTUNqAyCY</a>—@CBCBlairRhodes
The summary says the special constables had a duty to evaluate Rogers' medical condition prior to being placed in the cell, and they were required to observe him "for the purpose of maintaining his personal safety and well being."
"Corey Rogers, like any person placed in police cells following an arrest, inherits this 'duty' regardless of his state of sobriety," the summary says.
During its investigation, the team interviewed six civilian witnesses and reviewed police notes, reports, radio transmissions and video footage from the cell block.
Special constables in Nova Scotia are not police officers. They are civilians appointed to specialized duties, including the booking of prisoners.