Jury remains undecided in case of prisoner’s death in Halifax jail cell

A jury deciding whether two special constables are criminally negligent in the death of a man in a Halifax jail cell will deliberate for a third day starting Sunday morning.

Dan Fraser and Cheryl Gardner are on trial in Nova Scotia Supreme Court in the 2016 death of Corey Rogers

Rogers, 41, was arrested for public intoxication the night of June 15, 2016, and was brought to a jail cell at police headquarters to sleep it off.

During the nearly two-week trial, the jury heard that Rogers spat on the arresting officers during the drive to the police station that night, so the officers placed a spit hood — a fabric mask that covers the lower half of a person’s face — on him.

The spit hood was not removed, and Rogers died of asphyxiation, choking on his own vomit in the jail cell.

The jury has now been deliberating for about 10 hours over Friday and Saturday.

During the trial, Gardner and Fraser testified they never received training on the use of spit hoods and lacked the resources in the booking area to carry out the requirement to rouse an intoxicated person every 15 minutes to make sure they are OK.

The Crown argued Fraser and Gardner failed to fulfil their duty to care for Rogers, did not perform required checks and entered some checks in a logbook that were never performed.

Jury asks for clarification

On Saturday, the jury sent a vague note to the court that said it was not unanimous on a particular point of the judge’s instructions.

It was in relation to whether the inaction by Fraser and Gardner was a marked or substantial departure from the standard of care expected of a booking officer.

After some discussion, Justice Kevin Coady decided to repeat the instructions in another way. The jury then asked for a written copy of what the judge said.

At that point, Coady decided to send them home for the evening and said he would provide a written copy to the jurors on Sunday morning.

The deliberations will continue at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday.

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