Sheriff Laurel Purcell said she didn’t give a critical doctor’s note to legal counsel regarding Howard Hyde because she thought it would violate his privacy rights.
Dr. Janet MacIntyre’s note requested that police officers bring the mentally ill Hyde, 45, back to hospital after his court arraignment if the judge didn’t order a psychiatric assessment.
MacIntyre testified Wednesday during the fatality inquiry into Hyde’s death that she thought her request on the Health Information Transfer form would provide a “safety net” for the schizophrenic man. Hyde died the next morning, without having seen a psychiatrist.
MacIntyre allowed Hyde -- who had been off his medication -- to leave the QEII Health Sciences Centre, where he was taken after police Tasered him during a struggle. MacIntyre gave the HIT form to a police officer, who then gave it to Purcell.
Purcell testified she didn’t tell the court about the note at Hyde’s arraignment hearing because she thought it was confidential. She also didn’t want counsel to perceive she was trying to influence the court as to whether or not Hyde needed to see a psychiatrist.
“We must always appear to be impartial,” she told the inquiry.
At the time, Purcell thought the purpose of the HIT form was to deal with unique circumstances, not to advise the Crown or defence of unusual medical conditions. She told the court she didn’t have the authority to ensure Hyde either got a court-ordered psychiatric assessment -- which was never ordered -- or was sent back to hospital to have the assessment.
MacIntyre said Const. John Haislip of HRP gave her the impression police did have that authority. Haislip consulted Purcell, his supervisor, before allowing the doctor to believe Hyde would see a psychiatrist one way or another as a result of her note on the HIT form.
Purcell said she asked the officer to read the doctor’s note several times over the phone and said she didn’t fully understand what MacIntyre wrote.