As officers wrestled and Tasered Howard Hyde, there was an unlocked shelf of knives and other weapons just feet away in a police booking station, an inquiry heard yesterday.
Halifax Regional Police Const. Jonathan Edwards, who was 21 in November of 2007 when Hyde died 30 hours after being Tasered, testified he was worried about Hyde getting to the drawer.
The drawer contained various weapons confiscated from those arrested. The drawer was not locked and the cabinet directly above it was missing, so it was possible to see and reach inside.
Edwards did not know why the drawer was unlocked, but said it had been there since he started 14 months earlier. Today, weapons are no longer stored in the drawer.
Hyde, who suffered from schizophrenia and was off his medication, struggled with police officers just a few feet away from the drawer. Edwards said it was partly concern about Hyde getting to a knife that led to his being Tasered.
Hyde family lawyer Kevin MacDonald said there was no indication Hyde even knew about the drawer.
“It’s concerning for sure that in the booking area where people are booked, and it’s supposed to be secure, that you have this cache of weaponry,” MacDonald told reporters outside of court.
Other revelations yesterday from the inquiry death included a booking officer appearing to threaten to Taser Hyde as he began resisting.
Hyde began struggling when officers tried to cut the string from his shorts. Though images were not caught on tape, surveillance audio recorded sound of the scuffle. Edwards can be heard saying “Howard, sit down." Fellow Const. Greg McCormack is then argued to have said "You’re going to be doing the f***ing dance next, Howard," although his voice is muffled.
It was also revealed that more than 30 minutes of footage of Hyde in a cell waiting to be booked has gone missing.