Howard Hyde’s common-law wife tried to tell jail staff the man was suffering a psychotic episode but they wouldn’t let her talk, an inquiry heard yesterday.
The day after Hyde, 45, was arrested for assaulting Karen Ellet she called the Burnside jail to tell them Hyde was off his medication and having a psychotic episode.
“(The operator) cut me off. She said we don’t talk about anyone in the correctional centre,” Ellet testified yesterday at the inquiry into Hyde’s death.
An internal audit released shortly after the Nov. 22, 2007, death revealed corrections staff were never formally told about Hyde’s condition.
Yesterday Ellet described him as a passive, caring soul who loved sports and music.
“He was just an incredible man,” she said.
But the court heard yesterday Hyde suffered from schizophrenia and had gone off his medication because he didn’t like how it made him feel. In the weeks leading up to his death his condition degraded. In one instance he became violent, striking Ellet hard enough to cause severe headaches.
Then, on Nov. 21 he broke down, pacing back and forth and “hollering incoherently.” At one point she tried making a call and he struck her in the head with the telephone and threw her on the bed.
“He was very violent and he was unpredictable. He wasn’t responsible for himself,” said Ellet, who described Hyde as the worst she’d ever seen him.
She called the mobile crisis unit and then 9-1-1. When police arrived Hyde jumped off the back balcony and ran off, despite being bare foot and wearing only shorts in near zero degree weather.
Police caught Hyde shortly afterwards and described him as coherent and co-operative. But over the next 30 hours he would twice try to escape custody, was Tasered and ultimately died in the Burnside jail just hours after Ellet tried to warn corrections staff.
“I really wanted him to be in the hospital and get the treatment he needed for psychosis,” she said.