May 25th, 2024

Crown says officer saved life during arrest of women guilty of drug possession


By Lethbridge Herald on November 6, 2021.

Delon Shurtz – LETHBRIDGE HERALD – dshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

On April 4, 2019, a Lethbridge police officer was patrolling Galt Gardens and saw several people sitting on the grass. He noticed one woman became particularly nervous and appeared to hide something under her leg or coat, and in the process dropped a small tinfoil packet.

The officer advised the woman, Sharise Smith, of his suspicion that she was using drugs, and she immediately attempted to swallow several packages. The officer struggled with Smith and prevented her from swallowing fentanyl, as well as suboxone pills, a prescription medication used in treating opioid addictions.

Smith, 30, was arrested and found in possession of nine suboxone pills and 10 packets containing a total of 2.3 grams of fentanyl.

Smith, who pleaded guilty Thursday in Lethbridge provincial court to two charges of drug possession, was sentenced to five days in custody on each of the charges, which will run concurrently to each other and to a jail sentence she is already serving.

Federal Crown Prosecutor Mark Klassen noted even though the fentanyl was packaged in a manner consistent with trafficking, there was insufficient evidence to prove it.

“And at the end of the day really, the police officer saved her life from probably what would have been a very serious overdose based on that amount of fentanyl,” Klassen said.

Lethbridge lawyer Scott Hadford said Smith has a “serious addiction to serious substances,” and her addiction to carfentanil has “really leveled her life in a bad way.”

Hadford said Smith is remorseful and acknowledges her dangerous lifestyle. She’s also scared, Hadford added, and hopes she can receive counseling and treatment after she is released from custody.

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bladeofgrass

Why isn’t she offered jail or recovery? Or recovery while in custody is my question. This is a different kind of ‘catch and release’. They have there and now and she’s in the mindset to change to do something about it now!

pursuit diver

There is no such thing as jail in recovery and people have gone into jail as occasional users and come out addicts, from the drugs they got in jail!
I man not sure why she wasn’t in the drug court, but maybe she wasn’t thought to be a good candidate. There are some that are just too far gone, sadly and for them, they will continue in their addiction until death.
I know that the drug court has already seen success, but one problem is that the new beds of the treatment center expansion in Lethbridge will not be ready for another year, and their also is a shortage of ‘qualified’ staff to operate those facilities. We are also short of ‘trauma’ counsellors that deal with addictions by treating the ’cause’ of the addiction whether it is ACE’s (Adverse Childhood Experiences) or other traumatic experiences that cause the addicts to want to use to disappear into that world of intoxication or hallucination that stops any thoughts of the past.
There are many programs still in the early stages that are coming onboard for charging the drug users, giving them choices of treatment or jail and even treatment programs. You need trained staff, infrastructure and legislation changes which all take time.
I applaud the LPS officer for charging this person, since many LPS have given up due to threats of legalizing possession of all drugs by our great PM who appears to want everyone to get high and kill our economy, charging the users, taking up hours of time that take them away from other duties, and more importantly, that the Crown in this case, actually allowed it to go to court.
It shows that change is coming after a realization that ignoring users downtown to use where ever they want will not be tolerated and there will be consequences! I can walk through that park any time and see open drug use, but I know to look for. I can walk in other areas of downtown and see open drug use. There are plans to put an end to that and to the illegal drug consumption sites that operating that encourage addicts to continue in their addictions by supplying all their needs, enabling them!
Change is coming!