N.S. police officer didnt tell others that Tasered man was mentally ill, off meds

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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HALIFAX - A Halifax police officer didn't tell colleagues that a man who had just been arrested was schizophrenic, had been off his medications for weeks and had been acting violently, a fatality inquiry heard Tuesday.
Const. Giles Gillis, who was responding to a domestic assault call, testified at the hearing into the death of Howard Hyde that the man's common-law spouse told him he suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and had assaulted her.
He was also informed that Hyde, a 45-year-old musician with a 20-year history of mental illness, had stopped taking three types of anti-anxiety and psychosis medications and was delusional.
Still, Gillis admitted not conveying the critical information to other police officers who took Hyde to a lockup in Halifax on Nov. 21, 2007, where he was repeatedly Tasered after struggling in the cells.
When asked by lead counsel Dan MacRury why he didn't tell the officers about Hyde's condition, Gillis replied: "I don't know."
"Why didn't you radio the police station after getting the statement?" MacRury asked at another point in the testimony.
"Were you not bothered by the fact that you knew he was schizophrenic and off his medications and he had been Tasered?"
Gillis said he believed he was following proper procedure and that Hyde was in the most appropriate place since a judge would decide later in the day if he should undergo a psychiatric evaluation.
The probe is trying to determine what happened to Hyde after he was arrested and then died in a correctional facility 30 hours after being Tasered. It will determine whether Hyde received adequate care from police, correctional officers and health officials.
Karen Ellet, Hyde's spouse and the hearing's first witness, testified that she told officers her violent, incoherent husband was mentally ill and needed medical help the night he hit her with a telephone.
But the Nova Scotia woman said he did not get the help he so badly needed.
The soft-spoken woman said she called a help line for those facing mental health emergencies when Hyde became very aggressive, at one point holding her wrists and striking her on the side of her face with a telephone.
"I realized he needed some medical help," she told the inquiry in a quiet but steady voice. "He was pacing back and forth and hollering. He was incoherent. ... I couldn't make out what he was saying."
The court heard a recording of the 911 call Ellet made later that night, during which she told the operator in a hushed tone that Hyde was "going to become violent."
When police arrived at the couple's home in Dartmouth, Hyde had fled their apartment by climbing over the balcony and down the side of the four-storey building. It was a cold night and he was dressed only in a pair of shorts and had no shoes.
Ellet told the officers that Hyde was terrified of being Tasered because he had been hit with an electric jolt from a stun gun during an earlier confrontation with police.
She said she later learned that Hyde had been arrested, but when she called the correctional centre to let them know he was ill, she was told staff couldn't help because of concerns over confidentiality.
"I really wanted him to be in the hospital and get the proper medical treatment that he needed for his psychosis."
Gillis also said he did a background check on Hyde when he returned to his office, but could find nothing on the man despite a lengthy history that included 11 criminal charges and several involving mental health issues.
After being Tasered twice and rendered unconscious, Hyde was revived by CPR and taken to hospital. Later that morning, he was taken to the Dartmouth jail, where he spent the night.
The next morning, he fell unconscious again after struggling with correctional officers trying to restrain him in a holding cell. He was declared dead in hospital at 8:42 a.m.
The provincial medical examiner concluded Hyde died of excited delirium due to paranoid schizophrenia.

Geographic location: HALIFAX, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia

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Recent comments

  • Jack on the rocks
    January 18, 2010 - 11:17

    Surprise,Surprise,Troy still hasn't grown up and is still talking bad about the cops.Something never change???????

  • Troy
    January 18, 2010 - 10:57

    Hey Jack,,I am not running around Tazering people left right and center,,,If you haven't noticed it is YOUR precious police that got THEMSELVES in this predicament all over the place,,,I had nothing to do with it, why not comment on the story and not on me,,,,ohh ya what could you possibly say about this story ,,,except as to agree with us,,,Tazers should be taken from them and let them do what they used to do,,,old fashion police work,,I am not against police ,,I am against the tazering of people to the extreme.

  • S.
    January 18, 2010 - 10:55

    This is a tragic situation for all involved-but it came about because Howard Hyde chose to go off his medication,and reflects the sorry state of health care for the mental health consumer .Why ,when his wife called a mental health hotline was she not helped by them ?Why was no ambulance dispatched?When she called the correctional centre, why did they have no policy in place for a mental health emergency? Why did the doctor not keep him in the hospital when he needed help? Why did 911 send just the police ,and not the police and a ambulance ? A different outcome to any of these questions and Howard Hyde might be alive today. Don't blame the officers that were dealing with an irrational man for tazering him,they used non-lethal force-then got him medical help . Blame a medical system that leaves the mentally ill to struggle on- on their own

  • Jack on the rocks
    January 18, 2010 - 10:45

    Better yet,the cops should put away the Tasers and go back to shooting suspects.Do some research on Death by gun vs Death by Taser.Then(pardon the pun)plead your case.

  • Troy
    January 18, 2010 - 10:32

    They are allowed to shoot people at will with guns also,,tazer, gun, makes no difference,,we are in a time of history where the police are always right and thats the bottom line,,,Well I hope Jack that one of them never has it in for you,,,cause they will certainly use their badge to their advantage. good luck.

  • lb
    January 18, 2010 - 10:31

    they kept jolting him till they killed him ...leg irons and cuffs would have worked better that repededly tasering that man ... these so called police officers should be asamed of themselves ...better yet how bout a new law that holds them to the same law as u or i when it comes to murder.....your tax dollers hard at work...

  • Troy
    January 18, 2010 - 10:31

    They kill here in B.C. also,,It is a travisty,,these officers use that tazer every chance they get,,It makes me sick and they get away with it!!! Then when an officer gets killed in the line of duty,,its a big deal all over canada,,,memorials news coverage ,,20 people charged with murder super investigations ,,,what a joke ,,but they kill with those tazers at will,,,, and nothing happens to them!!!! I think we should arm ourselves with tazers,,,and see how they like it.