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Lawyer challenges officer's testimony on events before Tasering of N.S. man

HALIFAX, N.S. - A lawyer questioned the testimony Wednesday of a former Halifax police officer at an inquiry into the death of a mentally ill man.

HALIFAX, N.S. - A lawyer questioned the testimony Wednesday of a former Halifax police officer at an inquiry into the death of a mentally ill man.

Shannon Coombs, who was a special constable with Halifax Regional Police in November 2007, said she vividly recalls seeing one of her colleagues holding a cutting tool near Howard Hyde.

Coombs testified at the fatality inquiry that her colleague - Special Const. Greg McCormick - was about to remove a string from Hyde's shorts on Nov. 21, 2007, after he had been arrested for allegedly assaulting his spouse.

She insisted the 10-centimetre curved, serrated blade on the tool was not drawn by McCormick moments before Hyde - who had schizophrenia - became agitated and was Tasered repeatedly at police headquarters.

"I just remember specifically that it was closed and that it was in his (McCormick's) hand," Coombs told the inquiry.

But in a statement to the RCMP taken on Nov. 25, 2007, Coombs said she did not have a good view of what happened.

Kevin MacDonald, a lawyer for the Hyde family, suggested to Coombs that she could not see the device.

"Your vantage point was such that you did not see Special Const. McCormick use that tool or hold that tool on that day," he asked.

"No, I did see him hold it, I did not see him use it," Coombs replied.

In her statement to the RCMP, Coombs said when officers brought out the cutting tool, it seemed to be the "catalyst" for Hyde to resist police.

Throughout the inquiry, MacDonald has focused his questions on the conduct of the police in arresting Hyde.

On Tuesday, Const. Jonathan Edwards conceded he copied part of a report on the incident from another officer.

He also couldn't explain why he told the RCMP that Hyde was given a Taser warning after watching a video of events at police headquarters that show one was never given.

Hyde, 45, died 30 hours after he was Tasered in a correctional facility in Dartmouth following a struggle with guards.

The stun gun was used as several officers struggled with Hyde in the booking area of police headquarters. Edwards testified that the short, heavy-set man was a threat to officers.

The inquiry is examining events surrounding Hyde's death.



Police were called to his apartment after his common-law spouse alleged he had assaulted her.

 
 
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