Nova Scotia jury deliberates in case of constables charged in jail cell death

HALIFAX — A Nova Scotia jury resumed deliberations today in a case where two special constables are facing charges in the jail-cell death of a 41-year-old man left lying in police lockup with his face covered by a hood.

Daniel Fraser and Cheryl Gardner have been on trial in Nova Scotia Supreme Court on charges of criminal negligence causing the death of Corey Rogers on June 16, 2016.

The Crown has argued the death was caused by the constables’ failure to follow basic safety practices, such as entering Rogers’ cell and gently shaking him to see if he was conscious.

Prosecutor Chris Vanderhooft has also said Fraser and Gardner failed to fulfil their duty to care for Rogers by not removing the spit hood given the inmate’s extremely intoxicated condition.

The jury was shown video of Rogers heaving in a cell while wearing the spit hood, and an autopsy suggested the inmate had vomited into the mask and died from suffocation.

The defendants have argued they were following the usual procedures when checking Rogers’ cell, and the threshold for a criminal code conviction has not been met.

A conviction of criminal negligence causing death requires the person charged complete or omit a duty in a way that shows “wanton and reckless disregard” for the lives or safety of others.

Court heard that in the hours before his death, Rogers was arrested outside a Halifax children’s hospital where his wife had given birth to their child the day before.

There was evidence that he was extremely impaired after rapidly drinking half a bottle of whisky.

He had a spit hood, a mask that prevents prisoners from spitting on others, placed over his face by arresting officers.

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