Radio exchange shows police knew about mans mental instability before Tasering

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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HALIFAX - Halifax police were told repeatedly that a man who later died in custody - 30 hours after being Tasered - was mentally unstable, was behaving aggressively and had been zapped with a stun gun before.
An inquiry looking into the death of Howard Hyde heard 10 minutes of grainy radio communications between several officers who were responding to a domestic abuse call from his common law spouse on Nov. 21, 2007.
The recording indicated his widow told one officer that Hyde suffered from schizophrenia and was acting violently.
Const. Brad Jardine testified Thursday that Karen Ellet told him in a brief conversation at her Dartmouth apartment that Hyde was mentally ill, had hit her and had tried to flee the building before by jumping off the balcony.
Jardine then radioed his colleague, who was pursuing Hyde after he fled the building when he learned police were responding to a complaint he had assaulted Ellet.
"Yes, he's arrestable for assaulting his wife and he's very mentally unstable, so heads up," Jardine said on the radio after his colleague spotted Hyde walking slowly outside in only his shorts on the cold November night.
The dispatcher's call to officers also indicated that the initial request for help came from a mental health agency that Ellet had called that night - another clue for police that they were dealing with a man who likely had some form of mental disorder.
Lawyers in the fatality inquiry are paying close attention to the flow of information about Hyde and whether officers should have sent the 45-year-old man to hospital for psychiatric treatment, instead of the police station after his arrest.
Testimony has shown that police learned from Ellet's statement that he was schizophrenic, had been off his medications for weeks and had been acting erratically.
But they didn't pass that information on to other officers who were booking Hyde at headquarters, where he struggled with police as they came at him with tool with a serrated blade to remove his shorts.
Police then Tasered him twice, briefly stopping his heart and rendering him unconscious.
Almost an hour passed between the time Ellet finished her statement and he was zapped with the stun gun.
When asked why he didn't tell colleagues Hyde was schizophrenic, Jardine said he didn't think he was having a mental health episode at the time because he was calm during the arrest.
He also said he didn't think it necessary to take him to the hospital immediately, though he admitted he had that option.

Geographic location: HALIFAX, Dartmouth

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