A police officer did not warn Howard Hyde before Tasering him in order to keep the element of surprise, the officer told the inquiry into Hyde’s death Friday.
The booking office had already fallen into havoc when Special Const. Greg McCormick reached for a Taser. Hyde, a schizophrenic who was off his medication and had barely slept in days, was struggling with two other officers on the floor.
McCormick told his fellow officers “I’m going darts,” which they recognized as slang to mean he was about to fire the Taser.
But Hyde was never given any warning of what was about to happen. McCormick told the inquiry that this was by design, because he hoped to use the element of surprise, as he was taught in a training course six months earlier.
The idea was to shock Hyde with the Taser and force his muscles to seize up so he could be restrained. It didn’t work. Instead, Hyde fought the officers off, jumped a desk and ran into a hallway before being eventually subdued. His breathing stopped and though he was revived, he died 30 hours later after another struggle in jail.
Though police training procedures do recommend warning a subject before Tasering to give them a chance to comply, McCormick said that would not have applied in Hyde’s case. He said the situation had already devolved past the point where Hyde could be calmed down verbally, and warning him he was about to be Tasered could have had the opposite effect of making him angrier.
Hyde had been cooperative up until the officers tried to cut a knot off of his short string so they could confiscate it, as per police policy.