What Howard Hyde needed on the night he died was “human contact, reassurance and kindness,” according to the head of the inquiry into his jail cell death.
“Even though he was acutely ill, Mr. Hyde was reassured and comforted ‘by talking to him,’” Judge Anne Derrick wrote in the conclusion of her 460-page report on the events leading to Hyde’s death. “Understanding this is to understand Mr. Hyde’s humanity and in him, ourselves.”
The report is the result of an 11-month inquiry into Hyde’s death on Nov. 22, 2007, at the Central Nova Correctional Facility in Burnside.
Derrick’s account paints the picture of a series of miscommunications between police, doctors, sheriffs and corrections staff, all working on incomplete information about Hyde’s mental state and medical history over the course of his arrest and detainment.
On the night arrested, Hyde had not been taking medication for his schizophrenia for approximately five months. But Derrick said Hyde’s mental illness was not the cause of death.
“(Schizophrenia) did make him fearful, anxious and delusional but it is completely unhelpful to link his death to his diagnosis,” Derrick wrote. “The only useful approach is to understand that Mr. Hyde died because of physiological changes in his body brought on by intense struggle involving restraint.”
Derrick’s ruling goes against the chief medical examiner’s report that asserted Hyde died from “excited delirium due to paranoid schizophrenia.”
Derrick also ruled out the use of conducted energy weapons, or Tasers, as cause of death.