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Lawyer alleges coverup at Hyde inquiry

The lawyer for Howard Hyde’s family is alleging a coverup after moreinconsistencies in Halifax Regional Police statements were uncoveredyesterday at the inquiry into the man’s death.

The lawyer for Howard Hyde’s family is alleging a coverup after more inconsistencies in Halifax Regional Police statements were uncovered yesterday at the inquiry into the man’s death.

Officers are denying the charge.

Shannon Coombs, a former special constable with HRP, told the RCMP four days after Hyde’s November 2007 Tasering and subsequent death that police officers ordered Hyde to go down to the floor and he refused to obey.

But video surveillance shows a different story. At the time Hyde, who suffered from schizophrenia and was off his medication, was struggling with three police officers at a booking station after being arrested.

Coombs told RCMP one officer yelled “get down.” But surveillance tapes show the officer yelling “get him down,” which Coombs now concedes was directed at the other officers.

“It went from Mr. Hyde not being compliant and refusing to get down to that not happening at all,” said Hyde family lawyer Kevin MacDonald. “So that is a significant difference.”

MacDonald also questioned why several statements yelled by Hyde such as “I’m sorry” and “what are you doing?” were not in Coombs’ notes. He suggested in court she was covering for her coworkers.

“I suggested the reason those statements that we all heard Mr. Hyde say on the video were not found in her notes or in the police statement is that it would not reflect very well on Ms. Coombs' colleagues,” he told reporters.

Coombs denied covering for her colleagues and said it was hard to make things out during the commotion of the struggle. She also said her coworkers did not use excessive force but handled the incident properly.

Coombs said she felt an “overwhelming feeling” of sadness when she learned Hyde had died.

 
 
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