Saskatoon

Law office security footage captures Saskatoon man's dying moments and then thieves looting body

A Saskatoon law office security camera shows a man dying of an apparent drug overdose. A lawyer says this should be a call to action.

Lawyer says footage shows vulnerability of drug users and need for safe consumption site

A male was found dead June 20 between two buildings in downtown Saskatoon. (Morgan Modjeski/CBC)

Footage from a law firm security camera captured a man's last moments as he dies of an apparent drug overdose in downtown Saskatoon early Saturday morning.

The video then shows another man arrive on the scene, spot the body and then take the dead man's bicycle.

And then, another man arrives and goes through the dead man's pockets and takes his hat.

Defence lawyer Brian Pfefferle turned over the video to Saskatoon Police after viewing it. Investigators first described the death as suspicious but then changed that assessment after watching the tape. The case is now in the hands of the coroner's office.

Pfefferle says the footage makes a graphic case for a supervised drug consumption site.

"As a society, we need to determine do we want a safe place for people to use narcotics where the police are able to be consulted and where social workers are able to be consulted, where health care professionals are able to be consulted," he said.

"Or do we want these people dying in the corners of our communities?"

The man died in the gap between the law office and another building. Pfefferle said the security cameras often capture people using drugs in the sheltered spot, or using it as a place to sleep.

The footage speaks to the vulnerabilities of people using drugs on the street, he said.

"The real sad thing about drug users in our downtown core and, unfortunately, I'd say we see on our surveillance cameras quite often people using narcotics in these zones, many times by themselves in isolation and by themselves," he said.

AIDS Saskatoon is working to get a safe consumption site open in the city but it's been stymied by the province refusing to give any money for operating it.

It now plans to go ahead regardless.

"We are done debating the legitimacy of the safe consumption site. We are going to provide it," executive director Jason Mercredi wrote in an open letter on Twitter.

Pfefferle said the law firm's footage shows the reality of what happens when people struggling with addictions are not supported.

"To die a drug user's death is not a death of dignity, I think we can all appreciate that," he said.

"We need to all work as a society."

Mercredi said more news on the safe consumption site would be announced in July.

About the Author

Dan Zakreski is a reporter for CBC Saskatoon.

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