News / Halifax

'He was a sweetheart:' Mother of man who died in Halifax police custody speaks out

Jeannette Rogers says she expects charges against five officers after her 41-year-old son Corey died in police custody in 2016.

A photo of Corey Rogers, who died in Halifax police custody in 2016, taken from his obituary.

INMEMORIAM.CA

A photo of Corey Rogers, who died in Halifax police custody in 2016, taken from his obituary.

Jeannette Rogers doesn’t want any mother to go through what she’s been through.

Rogers’ 41-year-old son Corey died in police custody in the early morning hours of June 16, 2016 after being arrested outside the IWK hospital in Halifax. His name was released for the first time this week.

“He was a sweetheart,” Rogers said Thursday. “But he was an alcoholic, and that got him into trouble quite often.”

Rogers said her son, an avid reader and a cook, had trouble working steadily and was in and out of jail.

“Alcoholism is an illness. It’s not a crime, and it should not involve the death penalty. It’s ludicrous,” she said.

“Changes need to be made, or some other mother is going to be going through the same thing.”

Rogers said she dropped her son off at the IWK the night of June 14, 2016 after the birth of his fourth child, and he spent the night there with his newborn daughter. The next night, he went downtown and got drunk, she said, and he ended up back at the IWK, where he was arrested just after
10:30 p.m.

That night, Rogers believes, her son was put in a police cell with a spit hood over his head and died by asphyxiation.

She said Halifax Regional Police are supposed to check on prisoners in cells every 15 minutes and wake them up if they’re drunk.

“I can understand nobody wants to rouse a drunk every 15 minutes, but it’s their job, and if they don’t want to do their job, then let them work somewhere else,” Rogers said.

“Police officers are trained to assess intoxicated people but they obviously didn’t do a good job in Corey’s case.”

Rogers disputes news releases from the Serious Incident Response Team and the province’s Public Prosecution Service that indicate that someone tried to resuscitate her son. She said no one did.

“They knew he had been dead for a while is my feeling,” she said.

Halifax Regional Police spokesperson Const. Dianne Penfound said police aren’t commenting on the case.

Rogers expects several Halifax Regional Police officers will be charged, probably some time in the fall.

Rogers said she’s satisfied with the way SiRT has handled the case, but delays, most recently due to the Crown in Nova Scotia handing the case to the Crown in Manitoba, are frustrating.

“It’s almost impossible to grieve because it’s right in my face all the time,” she said.

When it’s all over, Rogers said, she wants to see the police make sure their officers follow policies for people in custody and she wants there to be a nurse on every shift.

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