N.S. orders Taser review after inmate's death
Halifax police reluctant to link 45-year-old man's death to weapon
A man has died in a Dartmouth jail about 30 hours after he was jolted by a Taser, prompting Nova Scotia's justice minister to order a review ofpolice use of theweapon.
But Halifax Regional Police said Thursday that it's too early to speculate about whetherthe Taser hit killed the man.
"It's premature to draw any conclusion that the Taser contributed to this man's death," Tony Burbridge, Halifax's deputy police chief, told reporters.
The45-year-old mandied Thursday morning at the Burnside correctional facility, about 30 hours after officers useda stun gunto subdue him. Police haven't released his name, but Joanna Hydeidentified him as her brother,Howard Hyde.
Burbridge said the man was being booked on an assault charge early Wednesday. Whenhejumped overa counter and tried to flee, a struggle ensued, and the officersused a Taser on him.
"From what I've seen on the tape, it was violent," the deputy chief said.
Burbridge said even after being jolted, the man continued to struggle and tried to run out a back door. The officers eventually brought him under control, but soon the man needed medical attention.
The officers gave the man first aid and paramedics took him to hospital. Burbridge said he was checked out, cleared medically, and returned to police custody.
Later Wednesday afternoon, the man was taken to courtand remanded to the jail.
Burbridge said he was not sure whether the Taser went off more than once, but hewas "absolutely"confident the officers did everything in their power to subdue the man before using the stun weapon.
He gave few details about the man, whom hedescribed as probablyheavier and taller than the officers, other than to sayhe had also been jolted by aTaser in 2005.
According to his widow, Karen Ellet, Hyde suffered from paranoid schizophrenia. Ellet said she told police Hyde was off his medication when he was being arrested.
"He was starting to get aggressive. He was panting," she said.
Police are waitingfor theprovince's chief medical examinerto determine exactly why the man died.
RCMP are also investigating.
No curb on Taser use contemplated
Burbridge said the police force will continue to use Tasers despite the death.
Nova Scotia Justice Minister Cecil Clarke is not banningthe weapons, though he has ordered an immediate review of how police use them.
"We also have to be considerate of those who put their lives on the line as peace officers and police and correctional workers, and we're going to have a balanced approach,"Clarke told reporters.
NDP justice critic Bill Estabrooks said an independent look at the overall use of Tasers in Nova Scotia is needed. However, neitherEstabrooksnor Michel Samson, the Liberals' justice critic, is calling for a moratorium on Taser use.
Ellet questioned how police handle people with mental illnesses.
"I really feel he should've had more medical help to get him on his medications to get him stable enough to get him to go to court," she said.
Hyde is the latest person to die in Canadaafter being stunned by a Taser.
Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski died after being shocked by a stun gun at the Vancouver airport five weeks ago, prompting the federal government to order a review of the RCMP's Taser policy.
That review will not include other police forces.
In Montreal, Quilem Registre died in mid-October after being shocked by a Taser at a police station where he had been brought for questioning. He had been stopped as a result of a traffic violation, and officers said he appeared to be intoxicated.
With files from the Canadian Press