Symptoms of Howard Hyde suffering cardiac stress cannot be conclusively linked to his struggle with police officers before hospitalization, a Halifax Regional Police lawyer argued yesterday.
Hyde, off his medication for schizophrenia, was Tasered during a struggle with police after being arrested November 2007. He was thought to have suffered cardiac arrest during the struggle and was taken to hospital, but was later cleared only to die the next day in a Burnside jail.
Yesterday the fatality inquiry into Hyde’s death reconvened after a week off to investigate what happened when Hyde was in hospital.
After the struggle Hyde was not breathing and police could not find a pulse. He was revived and sent to hospital where his heart rate was elevated and abnormal, his white blood cell count was worryingly high and an EKG scan showed a damaged chest muscle, according to testimony given by two nurses yesterday.
But whether he actually suffered from a heart attack or cardiac arrest isn’t clear. Hours after he was admitted Hyde’s condition had improved. Doctors medically cleared him rather than keeping him in the hospital for further testing.
The doctors who treated Hyde are scheduled to testify next week.
Halifax Regional Police lawyer Sandra MacPherson-Duncan proposed Hyde’s symptoms could have been caused by a condition called supraventricular tachycardia, or SVT. She said the condition can occur spontaneously or due to stress, and therefore reasoned Hyde’s symptoms may not be a result of the police struggle.
The nurses also testified that while Hyde was confused and not making sense, he was not aggressive. Police removed Hyde from hospital to take him to court before he could get psychiatric help.
The inquiry heard yesterday there are now psychiatric liaison nurses available 24/7 – in 2007 it was only from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. – and a process to get patients psychiatric help before they’re treated medically if their condition isn’t serious.