HALIFAX, N.S. – An inquiry probing the death of a mentally ill man who was Tasered by Halifax police has heard that Howard Hyde was “restless” and “confused” when he was taken to hospital after being shocked twice.
Susan Hedley, a registered nurse who helped care for Hyde in the early morning hours of Nov. 21, 2007, testified Tuesday that paramedics said the 45-year-old man had schizophrenia and was off his medication.
Hyde was “slightly agitated” when he was brought into the trauma room of a Halifax hospital in handcuffs at about 2:30 a.m., she said.
“(He was) talking, but not really connecting his thoughts,” she said during questioning by Dan MacRury, lead counsel for the inquiry.
“He did know his name. But where was he, he wasn’t sure. What year it was, not sure.”
Hedley also testified that paramedics indicated that Hyde had been Tasered and was given CPR.
She said Hyde’s vital signs were assessed and routine blood tests were done. He was also seen by Dr. Stephen Curry, who ordered 10 milligrams of an anti-psychotic combination sedative.
Hedley also said an EKG – a medical test that records the heart’s electrical activity – was performed on Hyde.
Under questioning by police lawyer Sandra MacPherson Duncan, Hedley testified the machine showed there was abnormal activity, but she did not elaborate.
Hedley also said she noted in a medical report that Hyde was sleeping within 20 minutes of the test.
“He may have been sleeping, he certainly had – at about that time – some problems with his heart,” MacPherson Duncan said to Hedley.
“It … means that he was sleeping when I checked (the medical report) off,” said Hedley.
“Yes, but when we look at the EKG, which is done at approximately the same time, it’s an abnormal EKG, right?” MacPherson Duncan continued.
“According to the machine,” Hedley replied.
The inquiry heard two weeks ago that a doctor declared Hyde medically stable about seven hours after he was shocked with the stun gun. Hyde was released into the custody of police so that he could be brought before a judge to face charges.
But Dr. Janet MacIntyre included instructions on a health transfer form that made it clear police were required to bring Hyde back to the hospital if he was not granted a psychiatric assessment.
Hyde never received the assessment and was transferred to a jail in Dartmouth, where he died after a struggle with guards 30 hours after he was Tasered.