Parents want answers to son's death in custody
The parents of a Saskatoon man who used drugs and who died in police custody want answers about what happened to their son.
Christopher Jason Hiebert, 34, was arrested Sept. 9 at his parents' east-side Saskatoon home.
Lee and Bryan Hiebert told CBC News he was getting ready to turn himself in on outstanding fraud and theft charges.
Just before 9 p.m. that night, police showed up and arrested him. A little more than two hours later, he was dead.
It was a death that was preventable, the Hieberts said.
"He shouldn't have died like this," Lee Hiebert said.
"I don't want this to happen to somebody else," Bryan Hiebert added. "Regardless of who the person is, how bad of a person he is, ... if you get arrested, you're in jail. That now becomes their responsibility to make sure you are safe."
Lee Hiebert said her son wrestled with a drug addiction for much of his adult life. He took cocaine and antidepressants.
So when she found his empty pill bottle the night police arrested him, she knew she had to act fast.
"I phoned the police station right away. I phoned and I said, 'Can you please check on my son, Christopher Hiebert? I think he might've taken some pills.' I said, 'Can you check now, please?' "
Lee Hiebert says she called at least three times between 11:15 p.m. and midnight, but she never heard back about whether officers were checking.
Police Chief Clive Weighill declined to discuss details of the case, but confirmed a call came to the station.
"He was brought down to our police detention centre and he was there for a few hours, at which time his parents called, concerned that he may have taken some drugs, at which time our officers checked," Weighill said.
"He was in distress, and he was taken to the hospital."
Weighill said detention officers follow clear rules: They check on prisoners every 10 minutes, and if there's any hint of medical distress, an ambulance is called.
Police are waiting for toxicology results, after which they will continue with their investigation, with RCMP oversight.
After that, it's expected the province's chief coroner will order an inquest.