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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Lawyer tells inquiry he wanted Taser victim released

December 12, 2009
The Canadian Press

HALIFAX — The lawyer representing a mentally ill man who died in police custody says he didn't ask for a psychiatric evaluation of his client, Howard Hyde, because he was trying to get him released.

Speaking through his lawyer Mark Knox, Peter Planetta says he runs into people with mental health issues on a daily basis and rarely asks for an assessment because it's not a therapeutic endeavour.

He says it also means a client will spend up to 30 days in jail.

Knox says Planetta, who testified Friday at the Hyde inquiry in Halifax, was also concerned that his client would have run the risk of giving incriminating evidence to a doctor, who wouldn't have legal privilege.

Knox says Planetta knew too that in Hyde's case, the Crown had agreed to release him, asking only that someone act as a surety for him.

Planetta was assigned as Hyde's counsel on Nov. 21, 2007, after the musician had been arrested on a complaint of domestic assault.

The inquiry is looking into how Hyde was treated by the health and justice systems after he was arrested and then Tasered while trying to break free from police at Halifax police headquarters.

Hyde, who had schizophrenia, died on Nov. 22, 2007, at the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility, one day after he was Tasered by police.

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