A police officer testifying at the coroner's inquest into the death of a psychiatric patient has apologized tothe late man'ssister.
Kevin Geldart, a patient who walked away from the psychiatric unit at Moncton Hospital, died May 5th, 2005, after police usedan electric stun gunto help subdue him at a downtown bar.
Al Parker, a retired 30-year police veteran and former staff sergeant, testified Monday that when he answered a call to the Right Spot bar in Moncton two years ago, he knew he would be dealing with a psychiatric patient.
Parker said he knew he was in trouble when Geldart turned to look at him, his pupils dilated, his eyes glassy. Parker said Geldart looked like he was on drugs.
"I didn't mean for this to happen," Parker said, apologizing to Geldart's sister, Karen Geldart.
"I'm sure you didn't, and I'm sorry you'll all have to live with it," she replied, referring to other officers involved in the altercation.
All four police officers who were present that night testified that Geldart seemed to possess superhuman strength during the struggle that followed, and thatpepper spray andrepeated shocks from aTaser stun gun seemed to have little effect on him.
It was not clear how many times the Taser was actually fired. Two officers testified they used the stun gun that night.
Const. Pierre Luc Hache said he used the Taser three times, but a report he filed later said he had used it twice. Const. Zane MacLure said he used the Taser once, but that it could still have been firing after the initial contact.
All four said Geldart was fighting officers off, and almost overpowered them. They all testified that Geldart looked scared, and was sweating and refusing to go with police.
It took all four officers to wrestle Geldart down, tie his feet and cuff him. They testified it was only after they cuffed him that they noticed that Geldart had stopped breathing.
Parker said he wishes he'd had more information about Geldart's condition, and the effects of the medications he was on before arriving on the scene that night. He said he's often wondered why it's not the ambulance, rather than police, who respond to those calls.
He said police receive between 500 and 600 calls a year to deal with psychiatric patients.A half-dozen of those calls, Parker said,are for involuntary patients, such as Geldart,who have walked away from the psychiatric unit of a hospital.