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Friday, February 06, 2009

Derrick named to stun gun death inquiry

February 6, 2009
Halifax Chronicle Herald

A Nova Scotia judge who presided over a controversial case involving the use of a police stun gun on a teen in Dartmouth will conduct a public inquiry into the sudden death of Howard Hyde.

Mr. Hyde is the mentally ill man who died in 2007 about 30 hours after Halifax police used a similar weapon on him.

Judge Anne Derrick will conduct the government-ordered hearing, which is to open in Halifax provincial court Feb. 18. The bulk of the fatality inquiry is set for April 22 to Aug. 14, a release Thursday said.

Cape Breton chief Crown attorney Dan MacRury has been appointed counsel for the inquiry, it said.

Mr. Hyde, 45, had schizophrenia and died not long after collapsing in jail in Dartmouth. He’d been arrested during a domestic dispute and was shocked with a stun gun after a fracas with police at the booking desk at Halifax Regional Police’s headquarters.

The province’s chief medical examiner has said being shocked with the device didn’t kill Mr. Hyde. His death was ruled accidental.

Judge Derrick will make recommendations about "circumstances surrounding (the death), cause and manner of death and on anything else that may arise out of the hearings," the release said.

The inquiry was ordered in September by Justice Minister Cecil Clarke.

Last month, Justice Heather Robertson of Nova Scotia Supreme Court overturned an earlier decision by Judge Derrick, who acquitted a teenaged girl in January 2008 in Halifax youth court. The teen had been charged with assaulting police and resisting arrest. Judge Derrick ruled the girl, whose identity is protected under law, was justified in resisting arrest during a dispute at a townhouse because officers overstepped their authority. The girl was Tasered by police.

The 17-year-old was angry with her sister, who’d taken her purse without asking, and the girl was threatening to damage the house, court heard during the trial.

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