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Monday, November 26, 2007

Report exonerates staff in prison death of Howard Hyde

November 26, 2007
Charles Mandel, CanWest News Service

HALIFAX - Staff at a Dartmouth jail followed proper procedure even though a man died last week, a day after he was shocked with a Taser, a review of the death has found. Howard Hyde of Dartmouth, N.S. was shocked last Wednesday after a "violent" struggle with officers at police headquarters as he was being booked into custody.

He died after a second scuffle, with staff at the Nova Scotia Correctional Facility, some 30 hours after he was hit by the police Taser. "Our findings indicate that staff followed proper procedures while this person was in our custody and we are now supporting RCMP in their phase of the investigation," said Fred Honsberger, executive director of Correctional Services with the Nova Scotia Department of Justice. Honsberger made his conclusion following a critical incident review into the death of the 45-year-old Hyde, a paranoid schizophrenic who was off his medications at the time of his death.

Hyde was arrested last Wednesday on charges including assault and resisting arrest. After he was hit with the Taser, he was brought to hospital where he was medically cleared and taken to the correctional facility. Last Thursday, Hyde had a second episode with corrections staff. He was placed in handcuffs and struggled as he was put in a holding cell. Shortly after, he collapsed. Staff called 911 and began CPR. Paramedics took over as they rushed him to hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

RCMP are conducting their own investigation of the death, which has also led to the provincial government ordering a ministerial review of Taser use in Nova Scotia.

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