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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

'Excited delirium', not taser, to blame for Hyde's death, M.E. says

September 17, 2008
The Chronicle Herald (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

It was excited delirium, not being zapped with a Taser, that killed Dartmouth resident Howard Hyde in November, Nova Scotia's chief medical examiner ruled today. Matthew Bowes met with the Hyde family today to tell them his findings, according to a government news release.

Mr. Hyde, who suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, died Nov. 22 about 30 hours after he was Tasered by Halifax police. He had been involved in a scuffle with jail guards at the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility in Dartmouth.

Dr. Bowes has concluded, however, that Mr. Hyde's death was an accident and that he died from excited delirium due to paranoid schizophrenia. "Atherosclerotic coronary artery disease, obesity and restraint during a struggle were all contributing factors," the government's news release.

Justice Minister Cecil Clarke is holding a news conference in downtown Halifax to explain Dr. Bowes's findings.

Excited delirium has been a controversial diagnosis in Taser-related deaths. The disorder is characterized by extreme agitation, violent and bizarre behavior, insensitivity to pain, elevated body temperature, and/or superhuman strength.

Dr. Bowes's examination found that Mr. Hyde did not die of asphyxiation due to restraint or of being Tasered by police the day before his death. "At my request, the case file was independently reviewed and summarized by Dr. Marnie Wood, a forensic pathologist who was not involved in the initial investigation," Dr. Bowes said in the release.

The province's medical examiner says this marks the end of his investigation.

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