HALIFAX, N.S. – A doctor who treated a mentally ill man who died 30 hours after being Tasered by police instructed officers to return him to the hospital if he had not undergone a psychiatric evaluation.
Dr. Janet MacIntyre ordered police to bring Howard Hyde back to the Halifax hospital after they took him to be booked on several charges related to a struggle at police headquarters on Nov. 21, 2007.
The doctor had been treating the 45-year-old man, who had a long history of mental illness, after he had been Tasered by police folowing his arrest on a charge of domestic assault.
But it appears officers took Hyde to the police station and then to a correctional facility nearby, where he died 30 hours after being shot with the stun gun.
Const. Gyles Gillis, a former Halifax police officer who was with Hyde in the hospital, conceded that it might be helpful to have more guidance on how to handle medical information.
Dan MacRury, the inquiry’s lead counsel, said health forms in this case are one part of the puzzle that might help explain what happened to Hyde.
“This document will be examined extensively through the proceedings, that’s clear,” he said outside the court room.
“That’s the purpose of the inquiry to determine who had the document and how the system deals with different documents.”
The inquiry, now in its second day, has focused on how police are trained to deal with people with mental illnesses and the flow of information between police and other officials.
Gillis said he didn’t recall if the police dispatcher told him as he headed to Hyde’s Dartmouth apartment if he was schizophrenic and off his medication.
The fatality inquiry has heard Hyde’s spouse, Karen Ellet, had relayed that information when she called 911 to alert police she had been assaulted by Hyde.
As well, Gillis said he didn’t check a computerized database to determine if police had dealt with Hyde before because the computer in his car was off – a common practice among officers on foot patrol.
Still, Gillis – who now works for the RCMP – admitted that it would have been helpful if checking the computer had been part of the beat officer’s usual routine.
The hearing in Halifax heard Tuesday that Gillis didn’t tell colleagues that Hyde was schizophrenic and off his medications after Ellet gave him the information.
Gillis also said he would welcome more training on how to handle people with mental illnesses, adding he couldn’t remember much about the police training he received at an academy in P.E.I.
He conceded that it was difficult to determine whether Hyde was high or was suffering a mental health crisis.