HALIFAX — A Halifax police officer said Tuesday he copied parts of a report on a Tasering incident from another officer involved in the melee, which is at the centre of a inquiry into the death of a mentally ill man.
Const. Jonathan Edwards conceded after days of questioning at the inquiry that he had taken portions of a supplemental report prepared by Special Const. Greg McCormick, who was also at Halifax police headquarters when Howard Hyde was brought in for booking.
Edwards testified a day earlier that he had not read his colleague’s account of what happened on Nov. 21, 2007, the night the 45-year-old schizophrenic was repeatedly Tasered by police at the station.
But under questioning by police lawyer Sandra MacPherson Duncan, Edwards said he did lift passages from the internal report.
“It appears you may have borrowed a couple of sentences from Const. McCormick,” MacPherson said to Edwards at the fatality inquiry.
“Yes,” he concurred.
The report recounts some of the events from the night Hyde was arrested for allegedly assaulting his spouse. It was one of three accounts Edwards made that night, including his police notes.
Outside the court, MacPherson Duncan downplayed the significance of his testimony, saying the evening was stressful and no one can be expected to be flawless.
“You cannot hold anybody to a level of perfection that would require instant recollection,” she said.
She added that no one had ever told Edwards not to collaborate on the report and that there were no discrepancies in the internal report and his personal police notes.
But Kevin MacDonald, a lawyer for Hyde’s family, said the change in testimony raises questions about the officer’s independent account of what happened.
Edwards also conceded that he didn’t know why he told the RCMP Hyde was warned twice that he was about to be Tasered at police headquarters. He said the surveillance video from the station appears to indicate no such warnings were given as Hyde fell to the ground in a struggle with several officers.
In a statement to the RCMP on Nov. 25, 2007, Edwards said a booking officer warned Hyde that a Taser was going to be used on him unless he co-operated with police.
Edwards said he can’t explain why he would have told the RCMP a warning was given because he had watched the video before making his statement to the Mounties.