Taser inquiry begins - Metro US

Taser inquiry begins

The inquiry of a Nova Scotia man who died shortly after being Tasered began yesterday. The first order of business was limiting the public’s access to security videos.

Howard Hyde, 45, was arrested and charged with assaulting his common-law wife on Nov. 22, 2007. Hyde, who suffered from schizophrenia, struggled with police and was Tasered.

He died the next day while being restrained by jail guards in another struggle.

An inquiry into the high-profile death kicked off yesterday and will be webcast online. Much of the inquiry will focus on 16 hours of security camera footage of Hyde in jail and police holding cells.

Hyde’s family, along with the Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia and the Canadian Mental Health Association, lobbied to have the video made available to the public online.

“I was very troubled, frankly, when I watched it,” Kevin MacDonald, the lawyer representing some of Hyde’s relatives, told reporters.

“I think when you view the video it stands alone.”

But the NSGEU opposed releasing the video, saying it would violate the privacy of some guards and prisoners who were not involved in the Hyde incident. The NSGEU lawyer argued the public would still get to see the video through the webcast.

MacDonald disagreed. He said a streaming video of a TV screen playing in court won’t be clear enough to people watching online.

Judge Anne Derrick ultimately sided with the union and ruled the video will not be released. Though she said putting the video online “probably would provide clearer images to the general public,” she worried about privacy concerns and people using the video inappropriately once it is online.

She also said there was no audio in the footage and people wouldn’t have the proper context unless they viewed it along with witness testimony. Security cameras in jail cells do not record audio due to Charter of Rights and Freedoms concerns around prisoner privacy.

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