Watch­dog: Man badly hurt af­ter po­lice en­counter

Seeks or­der re­quir­ing Van­cou­ver con­sta­ble to co-op­er­ate with probe into fa­tal case

Times Colonist - - B.c. / World - GEORDON OMAND

VAN­COU­VER — Bri­tish Columbia’s po­lice watch­dog is shed­ding light on the se­vere in­juries suf­fered by a man dur­ing a deadly en­counter with Van­cou­ver po­lice in a court doc­u­ment seek­ing an or­der for an of­fi­cer to be in­ter­viewed as a wit­ness.

The in­juries are out­lined in a pe­ti­tion filed Wed­nes­day by the In­de­pen­dent In­ves­ti­ga­tions Of­fice ask­ing the B.C. Supreme Court to com­pel the of­fi­cer to co-op­er­ate with its in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the death of Myles Gray.

The pe­ti­tion lists the find­ings of an au­topsy de­scrib­ing Gray’s in­juries, which in­clude a frac­tured voice box, dis­lo­cated jaw, dam­aged tes­ti­cle, bro­ken eye socket and frac­tured ster­num.

It also says the cause of Gray’s death has not been de­ter­mined.

It says Gray died Aug. 13, 2015, af­ter eight po­lice of­fi­cers re­sponded to re­ports of a dis­traught man who was de­scribed by a caller as “ap­par­ently high on drugs and al­co­hol.”

The caller said the man was spray­ing a wo­man with a gar­den hose.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tions of­fice al­leges in its pe­ti­tion that Const. Hardeep Sa­hota of the Van­cou­ver po­lice has re­fused to grant in­ves­ti­ga­tors a sec­ond in­ter­view.

The pe­ti­tion says Sa­hota is con­sid­ered a wit­ness and that her ac­tions are not be­lieved to have con­trib­uted to Gray’s death.

“As there were no civil­ian or in­de­pen­dent wit­nesses to the in­ci­dent, and given her pres­ence dur­ing most of the in­ci­dent, the in­ter­view is es­sen­tial to the progress of the … in­ves­ti­ga­tion,” the doc­u­ment says.

“In­ves­ti­ga­tors have ex­hausted all means to get Const. Sa­hota to com­ply with her statu­tory duty to co-op­er­ate.

“This fail­ure to co-op­er­ate has frus­trated, and con­tin­ues to frus­trate, the [In­de­pen­dent In­ves­ti­ga­tion Of­fice’s] abil­ity to ful­fil its man­date of con­duct­ing a thor­ough in­ves­ti­ga­tion into an in­ci­dent in­volv­ing the po­lice that re­sulted in a man’s death.”

Nei­ther Sa­hota nor the Van­cou­ver po­lice have filed a re­sponse to the pe­ti­tion with the court and the of­fi­cer’s lawyer, Kevin Woodall, de­clined com­ment, say­ing the Van­cou­ver Po­lice Union would is­sue a state­ment.

The pe­ti­tion quotes from a let­ter it re­ceived from Woodall out­lin­ing two con­di­tions be­fore his client would agree to a sec­ond in­ter­view.

He asks for an ad­vance tran­script of Sa­hota’s ini­tial in­ter­view with the po­lice watch­dog and re­quests that it prom­ise in writ­ing it will not dis­close her state­ments to any­one other than Crown coun­sel to ei­ther con­sider or pros­e­cute crim­i­nal charges.

The in­de­pen­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tions of­fice de­clined both re­quests, say­ing it would pro­vide Sa­hota and her lawyer with ac­cess to a tran­script of her ear­lier in­ter­view un­der su­per­vi­sion, but it does not dis­trib­ute writ­ten copies of tran­scripts dur­ing ac­tive in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

The of­fice also said it should be “self-ev­i­dent” that it does not pro­vide ev­i­dence from in­ves­ti­ga­tions “to any­one with­out due au­tho­riza­tion.”

“Au­tho­rized agen­cies other than the Crown, such as the Of­fice of the Po­lice Com­plaints Com­mis­sioner or the coro­ners’ ser­vice, may have law­ful re­quire­ments for that ma­te­rial,” the doc­u­ment says.

Van­cou­ver po­lice spokesman Sgt. Ja­son Ro­bil­lard said he had not seen a copy of the pe­ti­tion.

“This has been a long, dif­fi­cult process for ev­ery­one in­volved, in­clud­ing Mr. Gray’s fam­ily and friends and our of­fi­cers and their fam­i­lies,” he said, adding that there was no fur­ther in­for­ma­tion the depart­ment could pro­vide at this time.

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