3 Halifax police officers under internal investigation in death of man in drunk tank

The three constables who arrested Corey Rogers, took him to the police lockup and placed a spit hood on him are under internal investigation.

Police Act penalties include suspension or dismissal from the force

Jeannette Rogers received a letter notifiying her about the Police Act investigation against three constables. (Elizabeth Chiu/CBC)

A year and a half after the death of Corey Rogers, the actions of three Halifax Regional Police constables who arrested him and transported him to the police lockup are now being investigated by the force.

Corey Rogers's mother, Jeannette Rogers, was notified in a Nov. 22 letter that the sergeant in charge of professional standards at Halifax Regional Police has started an internal investigation under the province's Police Act against the three arresting officers.

"I'm pleased that they're doing this finally," said Rogers. "I'm hoping that it will make a difference."

Corey Rogers, 41, was found unresponsive in a Halifax Regional Police cell in the early hours of June 16, 2016. He had been arrested for public intoxication outside the IWK Health Centre, where his partner had just given birth.

Corey Rogers died in June 2016, the day after his daughter was born. (Jeannette Rogers)

Court records show that he had previously been charged under the Liquor Control Act more than two dozen times.

Jeannette Rogers filed a complaint with the board of police commissioners about the department's treatment of her son shortly after his death in the drunk tank. She said she believes her complaint triggered this investigation.

Penalties include dismissal

The internal probe is not criminal in nature, but penalties under the act can include suspension or dismissal from the police department.

An investigation by the independent police watchdog SIRT, the Serious Incident Response Team, cleared the three officers of any criminal wrongdoing.

Rogers said she thinks they should be "reprimanded in some degree," although she's not asking that they be fired.

Last month, two booking officers were charged with criminal negligence causing Corey Rogers's death, following conclusions made by SIRT. The booking officers are accused of accepting Rogers into custody without a medical assessment, failing to adequately check on him and leaving a spit hood on him.

Call for ban on spit hoods

Rogers said she's been told her son died of asphyxiation.

"As far as I'm concerned, the three of them are just as culpable in the situation as the two booking officers because they were the initial ones who left the spit hood on," said Rogers of the three arresting officers.

Halifax Regional Police uses the Safariland TranZport Hood. (The Safariland Group)

Rogers, a retired psychiatric nurse, said she thinks spit hoods should be banned. If officers are concerned about being spat on or catching a communicable disease, she thinks they should wear a surgical mask to reduce that risk.

"Why torture somebody by putting a hood over their head? To me that makes no sense. That's not at all compassionate," said Rogers.

Halifax Regional Police said it is unable to comment on the Police Act investigation or to disclose details or the names of employees involved.

About the Author

Elizabeth Chiu


Elizabeth Chiu is a reporter with CBC Nova Scotia and host of Atlantic Tonight on Saturdays at 7, 7:30 in Newfoundland. If you have a story idea for her, contact her at elizabeth.chiu@cbc.ca.