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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Lawyer challenges officer's Taser testimony

July 15, 2009

HALIFAX — A lawyer is challenging the testimony of a Halifax police officer testifying at an inquiry into what happened to a man who died 30 hours after being Tasered.

Shannon Coombs, who was a special constable with Halifax Regional Police at the time, says she vividly recalls seeing one of her colleagues holding a cutting tool near Howard Hyde.

Coombs says her colleague was about to remove a string from Hyde’s shorts on Nov. 21, 2007, when he was arrested for allegedly assaulting his spouse.

She insists a blade on the tool was not drawn by the other officer, moments before Hyde — who suffered from schizophrenia — became agitated in the station and was then Tasererd repeatedly.

But Kevin MacDonald, a lawyer for the Hyde family, says Coombs stated in an interview with the RCMP after the incident that she could see very little, if anything, of what happened.

MacDonald also questioned her insistence that she saw a broken plastic restraint on the floor that another officer has said Hyde broke with his “tremendous strength.”

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