Nova Scotia

Man jolted with Taser needed help, widow says

The Nova Scotia man who died the day after he was shocked with a Taser should have been medicated for his mental illness, his wife says.

'I really don't want this to happen to anyone else'

The Nova Scotia man who died the day after he was shocked with a Taser should have been medicated for his mental illness, his wife says.

Karen Ellet said Howard Hyde was off his medication when police arrested him for assault and used a stun gun on him early Wednesday.

Howard Hyde, who died 30 hours after being shot with a Taser on Wednesday, is seen here in an undated family photo. ((Canadian Press))
"If he knew what he was doing, that would be a different story. But he was totally [not] responsible. He didn't know what he was doing," said Ellet, Hyde's wife of three years.

"The Howard that I knew when he was well was very gentle, very kind. That shows in his face," she said, staring at his picture Thursday night. "That's the man I fell in love with."

Hyde, 45, was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. He believed the drugs he was prescribed were harmful, Ellet said, and he stopped taking them maybe four separate times this year.

The details of what happened to Hyde in the 30 hours before he died Thursday morningare the subject of an RCMP investigation.

Halifax Regional Police said he violently tried to escape from the booking area at the police station.

Officers used a Taser to try to control Hyde, a police official told reporters. When he needed medical attention shortly after, he was taken to hospital, cleared medically, and returned to their custody.

Karen Ellet says Hyde was off his medication when he was arrested. ((CBC))
Hyde appeared in court later Wednesday and was remanded to the correctional centre in Dartmouth, where he died.

"Under those conditions, he shouldn't have been in court, as far as I'm concerned. He needed to be medicated, he needed to get stable," Ellet said.

Ellet is still waiting for the full story of her husband's death. She said he was physically healthy, but was told that he had a heart attack.

Hyde's sister, Joanna Blair, said when she got the official call that Howard was dead, no one told her that he had been jolted with a Taser.

"It came as a complete shock to us," Blair said. "We had to find out through the media."

Blair, who disagreed with the diagnosis that her brother had paranoid schizophrenia, said she doesn't understand why a Taser had to be used on an unarmed man.

Hyde previously hit by Taser

She said Hyde had developed a fear of the weapon after police jolted him with one two years ago.

"It's just a complete irony that his death would be shrouded in controversy over a possible Taser linkage when he had such a fear of Tasers," Blair said.

Police said it is too early to link Hyde's death with the use of the Taser.

Nova Scotia's chief medical examiner has yet to determine the exact cause of Hyde's death.

Elletwas not aware of thedebate over Taser useuntil after her husband's death. She said she's not sure whether it was proper forofficers to use the weapon because she wasn't at the police station.

If there is a lesson to be learned in this tragedy, Ellet said it's that people with mental illnesses need more help.

"I really don't want this to happen to anyone else," she said.