June 12, 2009
By Alison Auld, THE CANADIAN PRESS
HALIFAX, N.S. — A Nova Scotia judge will decide whether video footage of a man who died in a correctional facility after being Tasered will be downloaded onto the Internet in a case that's raising fresh questions about how much access the public should have to sensitive material.
Justice Anne Derrick is presiding over an inquiry looking into the 2007 death of Howard Hyde, a schizophrenic who died roughly 30 hours after he was Tasered repeatedly by police in Halifax.
Surveillance video from the facility apparently captured Hyde pacing in his cell, and the moments before his death after he struggled with guards and then collapsed, the inquiry heard Friday.
Dan MacRury, the inquiry's lead counsel, argued the video should be downloaded onto the Internet to allow greater public access in a hearing aimed at finding out what happened to the 45-year-old musician.
"It should be played on the web because it enhances the openness of the proceeding," MacRury said outside the courtroom.
"It is in the public interest to see what happened to Mr. Hyde."
But a lawyer for the guards who work at the facility in nearby Dartmouth argued that downloading the video onto the web violates the privacy rights of workers and prisoners who may have been inadvertently included in the footage.
David Roberts, who filed a motion opposing the downloading on behalf of the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union, said the danger in streaming raw surveillance footage is that people can distort it on social sites like YouTube.
He argued that "dumping" it onto the Internet also cedes control of key evidence to the public.
"It's subject to distortion and it's an invasion of their privacy rights," he said outside court of the 16 hours of DVD evidence.
"It can be copied, it can file-shared and we think we can have an open inquiry if it simply goes out as part of the hearing itself."
Roberts proposed that the footage be shown on the Internet as it's being viewed in the courtroom, but not allow the raw footage to go directly onto the web.
The provincial Department of Justice also opposed streaming the raw footage.
Hyde's relatives say the footage from the facility and police station where he was Tasered should be shown in full to provide a clear picture of the events prior to his death.
Daniel Walker, who's representing Hyde's sister and brother-in-law, challenged the motion and argued during the hearing that because the video could be central to explaining what happened to Hyde, it should be shown in an unadulterated way.
"The family's concerned that it come through to the observers outside the courtroom in its purest form," he said.
"They want this so members of the public can form their own opinions and make their own observations just as members of the public inside the courtroom will be able to do."
The legal arguments come weeks after lawyers agreed to set up cameras in the courtroom and webcast the inquiry, making it one of the first fatality probes in the country to be streamed on the Internet.
Hyde's family said the decision would allow his father in the United States and other relatives to watch the proceedings as they look for answers about the actions of the police, paramedics, corrections officers and hospital staff who came in contact with Hyde the night he was arrested.
Derrick said she would give her decision when the hearing resumes on July 6.
The hearing, expected to run until August at least, will examine what happened to Hyde after police arrested him at his home as they responded to a report of domestic abuse.
Hyde, whose long history of mental illness was known to police, was taken into custody at police headquarters in Halifax. The man, who was said to be deeply afraid of police following an earlier run-in, reportedly struggled with officers as he tried to escape.
The provincial medical examiner concluded that Hyde died of excited delirium due to paranoid schizophrenia.
excited-delirium sent a comment today that bears repeating here because it makes perfect sense:
"...cede control of the evidence to Internet users."
Stupidest statement of the month. Does he understand that it's a COPY, not a MOVE. The evidence is and shall remain the master copy. That original is the one-and-only true evidence, and should be protected.
But this basic requirement has NOTHING to do with allowing a copy to be published on the Internet or anywhere else.
And one never knows, perhaps some dedicated amateur sleuth will notice something important.
By the way - feel free to pixelate the guard(s) faces.
This leaves ZERO reason not to publish.
WELCOME to TRUTH ... not TASERS
Friday, June 12, 2009
June 12, 2009