Nova Scotia

Protocol not followed the night man died in Halifax jail cell, jury hears

A Halifax Regional Police sergeant responsible for internal procedure reviews told a Halifax jury on Tuesday booking officers failed to follow protocol on the night Corey Rogers died in a police cell three years ago.

Corey Rogers, 41, was arrested for public intoxication in June 2016

Corey Rogers, 41, died in June 2016 while in Halifax Regional Police custody. (CBC)

A Halifax Regional Police sergeant responsible for internal procedure reviews told a Halifax jury on Tuesday booking officers failed to follow protocol on the night Corey Rogers died in a police cell three years ago.

But Sgt. Steve Gillett also admitted some protocol wasn't clearly defined or enforced.

Two special constables, Daniel Fraser and Cheryl Gardner, have been charged with criminal negligence causing death and are on trial at Nova Scotia Supreme Court.

Special constables in Nova Scotia are not police officers. They are civilians appointed to specialized duties, including the booking of prisoners.

The Crown accused Fraser and Gardner of failing to properly check on Rogers after he was taken to police cells following his arrest at the IWK Health Centre in June 2016.

Why Rogers was arrested

Rogers, 41, was arrested for public intoxication on the front lawn of the IWK hospital in Halifax.

He'd gone there to see his newborn daughter, but security wouldn't let him in because he was drunk.

Rogers became belligerent and police were called.

He swore, threatened them and spit at them.

One of the constables who was called to the IWK, Const. Donna Lee Paris, placed a spit hood over Rogers' face, which covered his mouth and nose, but he could still see and speak.

4R checks should have taken place, says Gillett

Gillett said because of his level of intoxication, Rogers should have been subject to what's called 4R checks every 15 minutes, where an officer must rouse the prisoner and make sure he is OK and can respond to questions.

If he didn't respond, they were to enter the cell and shake him.

Gillett reviewed the security video of the cells area and he said the special constables never made sure Rogers was OK.

Rogers had vomited into the spit guard and asphyxiated.

Officer complaints about policy

But under cross-examination, Gillett admitted that booking officers complained they couldn't possibly follow the policy to the letter because they didn't have the staffing to safely enter cells every 15 minutes.

Gillett said he took the concerns up the chain of command and said he was told to carry on.

Earlier in the day, the jury heard from three security officers who were working at the hospital the night Rogers was arrested — Michelle Regan, James Diab and Derek Jefferson.

In his testimony, Jefferson said police were "pretty rough" when they arrested Rogers. He said while Rogers did not "fly through the air," he was put in the car forcibly.

The trial began Monday.

When the trial resumes on Wednesday, the Crown is expected to call two of the arresting officers, as well as the medical examiner who determined how Rogers died.

The CBC's Blair Rhodes live blogged from the trial on Tuesday.

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