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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Police assumed mentally ill man would get help, inquiry told

July 22, 2009
The Canadian Press/Globe and Mail

Two Halifax police officers have told an inquiry into the death of a mentally ill man that they assumed Howard Hyde would receive a required psychiatric assessment once he was released into the custody of court sheriffs or correctional officers.

The 45-year-old musician, who never received the assessment, died in a Dartmouth jail 30 hours after he was tasered at the Halifax police station on Nov. 21, 2007.

Const. John Haislip says he understood the instructions that a doctor included on a so-called Health Information Transfer form, which required police to ensure Hyde received a psychiatric assessment or be returned to hospital.

But he and a booking officer, Special Const. Dan Fraser, both said they assumed that either court sheriffs or correctional officers would make sure that happened once they took custody of Mr. Hyde after he was charged with assaulting several officers.

At one point, Const. Haislip testified he didn't “have a clue,” when asked if he was aware that the court could order a forensic psychiatric evaluation.

The inquiry has heard that the transfer form is typically not included with the package of information given to the Crown when a prisoner appears in court.

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