Police doctored reports to avoid charges of excessive force, alleged the lawyer for Howard Hyde’s sister as more inconsistencies were revealed yesterday at the Halifax inquiry into the man’s death.
According to one police report, Hyde “failed to comply with several demands to stop resisting and give officers his hands.”
The report was written by Const. Ben Mitchell, one of three police officers who struggled with Hyde when he was Tasered in a police booking office Nov. 21, 2007. Hyde died in jail 30 hours later.
Mitchell’s report also makes note of future potential charges against Hyde for assaulting a police officer.
Hyde family lawyer Kevin MacDonald played surveillance tapes showing officers gave no verbal warnings to Hyde. Mitchell conceded there were no warnings and said the report was written based on his best recollection of what happened.
Mitchell also testified that Tasering Hyde was necessary because he was overpowering three police officers. Mitchell described Hyde as having “the strength of 10 men,” adding he was physically exhausted by the time Hyde was subdued.
But MacDonald said Mitchell and his fellow officers knew they had to justify their actions or they could face charges of excessive force.
“I’m going to suggest to you Mr. Hyde had excited delirium and you saying he had the strength of 10 men was just an easy way to justify (the Tasering),” said MacDonald.
But Mitchell said officers felt they needed to bring Hyde down immediately or he could have gotten his hands on a weapon or escaped the booking office.