Seven Vancouver Police Department officers face possible disciplinary action related to the death of Myles Gray on August 13, 2015, in a Lower Mainland neighbourhood after an altercation with nine members of the police force present.
Gray, who grew up in Powell River and was a resident of Sechelt when he died at the age of 33, has been the subject of an investigation by the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner after an investigation by the Independent Investigations Office, and after the BC Prosecution Services recommended not proceeding with charges for the officers relating to the incident.
Myles’ mother Margie Gray said part of her cannot fathom that his death actually happened.
“When you really think about it, it’s a seriously messed-up story,” said Margie. “There’s a part of me that can’t believe it actually happened, but it did. It’s unfathomable when you really think about how something so atrocious could possibly happen in Vancouver, with nine against one.”
Margie said she believes the hearing growing out of the complaint commissioner’s report and the inquest into Myles’ death are happening almost at the same time in April. She said she believes the police hearing will be closed to the public and that she has no intention of attending the inquest, because she can’t see anything good coming out of it.
According to a report for the complaint commissioner from Metro Vancouver Transit Police chief David Jones, there appears to be sufficient evidence to support a finding that the abuse of authority, contrary to the Police Act, may be substantiated. The charge of abuse of authority indicates intentionally or recklessly using unnecessary force on any person.
Further, the findings indicated that six of the officers neglected their duty for failing to complete required documentation, such as notes and reports.
The recommended corrective of disciplinary measures for neglect of duty could include up to a suspension from duty, without pay, for up to 30 days. Regarding abuse of authority, contrary to the Police Act, the recommended corrective measure includes up to dismissal from the Vancouver Police Department.
No civilian witnesses have come forward to provide testimony regarding the case.
On the day of his death, Myles was making a delivery for his business, and police were called to the Lower Mainland location. According to a media statement from the BC Prosecution Service, during the incident, Myles suffered extensive injuries, and while being restrained by the police officers, he went into cardiac arrest and died.
According to the statement, Myles was walking in the area of South East Marine Drive in Burnaby, and during an encounter with a resident, he took her garden hose and sprayed her with water. The statement reads that the woman's son called 911 and the police department responded.
Efforts to arrest Myles were made, he was unconscious, restrained with hand and leg restraints, and suffering obvious injuries, according to the statement. A post-mortem examination did not determine a discrete cause of death, but revealed extensive injuries, including bruising to the body and extremities, bruising and lacerations to his face, an orbital bone fracture, nose fracture, partially dislocated jaw, a minor brain bleed, throat cartilage fracture, rib fracture and testicular hemorrhage, according to the statement.
Margie said the coroner’s office told her that Myles’ body would speak for itself, but so far, his injuries haven’t.
“Myles was alive before the police altercation and he was dead after the altercation,” said Margie. “That’s pretty black and white. The coroner said when they did the autopsy it wasn’t just bruising on the outside, there was hemorrhage internally. He had a broken larynx and another broken bone in his neck. Crown has massively failed justice, for sure.”
Margie said while there are potentially serious repercussions for the police officers facing the possibility of dismissal, she said she believes those responsible for Myles’ death should have been charged criminally.
“We are very disappointed that the BC Prosecution Service did not charge,” she added.
Margie said the Office of the Police Complaint Commission report had so many holes in it that a cannon could be fired through it. She said there are 267 pages in the complaint commission report, but there is a lot more information about the case that she has requested.
“I want it all,” said Margie.
She said she agrees with the decision of the Office of the Police Complaint Commission to pursue the abuse of authority and neglect of duty, but the potential discipline does not go far enough.
“When I was on the other side of the fence, I didn’t realize it could be so horrendous,” she added. “I didn’t know this side of life, this darkness. We just lived our lives and we had good lives until nearly eight years ago, then you see this country and Vancouver differently.”