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Police go on defensive at Hyde inquiry

Halifax Regional Police went on the defensive yesterday as new questions arose in the fatality inquiry of Howard Hyde.

Halifax Regional Police went on the defensive yesterday as new questions arose in the fatality inquiry of Howard Hyde.

Hyde, a schizophrenic, was Tasered by police after being arrested in November 2007 and died 30 hours later in jail.

The inquiry learned yesterday the doctor who treated Hyde after he was Tasered sent an order to police saying the man should be returned to the emergency room unless a psychiatric evaluation was ordered.

What happened to that note hasn’t been determined, but Hyde never made it back to the hospital.

Hyde was taken to hospital after he struggled with police, was Tasered and showed signs of distress. He was later taken back into police custody to be booked for new charges involving assaulting a police officer.

On Tuesday, Const. Gyles Gillis faced heavy questioning for not telling his colleagues Hyde was schizophrenic and not taking Hyde directly to hospital when he was arrested.

Yesterday, police lawyer Sandra MacPherson-Duncan made the case Gillis did his job properly. She noted Hyde had a history of violence and pointed to police procedures about keeping potentially violent people away from the public. She also had Gillis talk about how police do not get special treatment in emergency rooms and could spend hours waiting with a prisoner.

In her questioning, MacPherson-Duncan also said there was a high level of drug abuse in North Dartmouth where Hyde was arrested, which can be difficult to distinguish from mental health problems.

Gillis agreed, saying he did not believe they had “reasonable probable grounds” to hospitalize Hyde. He agreed Hyde being arrested wearing only shorts in zero degree weather was “not surprising given drug addiction levels.”

“All we have to do is watch an episode of Cops to see how frequent that is after midnight in any community,” MacPherson-Duncan said.

MacPherson-Duncan told the officer that given the circumstances, “you did a good job.”

 
 
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