Report on Sechelt man’s death ‘worse’ than mom imagined
For two years, the official version of the events leading to Myles Gray’s death has been vague, as have the injuries he sustained in a fatal altercation with eight Vancouver police officers in a Burnaby backyard in the summer of 2015.
A petition filed this week in B.C. Supreme Court by the provincial police watchdog reveals new information about both, including a list of injuries sustained by the 33-year-old small business owner from Sechelt.
According to the court file, Gray suffered a fractured voice box, nasal fracture, dislocated jaw, a fractured right orbital eye socket, a fractured rib, fractured sternum, hemorrhagic injury to one testicle and multi-focal bruising to his thigh and right arm. A cause of death has not been determined.
“It was worse than I could have imagined,” Gray’s mother Margie said in an interview Thursday. “It’s absolutely horrifying.”
Gray died on the afternoon of Aug. 13, 2015, in the backyard of a house on Joffre Avenue, just east of Boundary Road in Burnaby.
He had been pursued there from the 3600-block South East Marine Drive in Vancouver by as many as six Vancouver police officers, following a complaint of a “distraught man causing a disturbance,” according to a statement from the Vancouver Police Department. Initial attempts to arrest him resulted in Gray becoming “agitated.” More officers were called, pepper spray was used and eventually a “physical altercation” broke out.
Gray died of the injuries sustained in the altercation.
New details from the petition allege police received reports of Gray harassing a woman by spraying a garden hose at her on South East Marine Drive. It also claims the caller reported the man was “apparently high on drugs and alcohol.”
Gray’s mother said the incident happened during a severe drought, when watering restrictions were in effect. She took issue with the caller’s assertion that her son may have been using drugs or alcohol, saying she was told a toxicology screen came back clean. The B.C. Coroners Service told Postmedia it was not able to release information while the police investigation was ongoing.
“I don’t know what happened with the watering woman, but there was nothing in his system,” said Margie Gray. “He was a very fit man, but he’d never been in a fight in his life.”
The petition was filed by the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. to ask an officer who witnessed the event to sit for a second interview.
The petition alleges Const. Harder Sahota, the first officer on scene, has refused requests for a second interview.
Martin Youssef, a spokesman with IIOBC, said Wednesday that the main issue for the police watchdog was whether a witness officer was entitled to place conditions on “their duty to co-operate with an IIO investigation.
“It’s in the public interest for the IIO to conduct a thorough investigation and to determine all the relevant facts and only after receiving that can we reach conclusions,” he said. “Obviously, we’ve tried a number of different steps leading up to this and this is a last resort for us.”
Youssef noted that this is the second case where the IIO has had to petition the court to seek co-operation from an officer during an investigation.
In the other case, the IIO is taking Vancouver police Chief Adam Palmer and seven officers to court over what it considers a lack of cooperation with an investigation into the fatal shooting of a man outside a Canadian Tire store last year. Thirty-eight-year-old Daniel Peter Rintoul died in that shootout.
Doug King, a lawyer with Pivot Legal Society who is also a member of the IIO’s external advisory group, told Postmedia earlier this year that he’s watched the relationship between Vancouver police and the watchdog deteriorate for a few years. He believes the turning point was the investigation into the 2014 police shootout with Gerald Battersby at Science World, a case where the IIO forwarded a report to Crown counsel, but no charges were approved.
Margie Gray said the loss of her son has “torn our family apart.
“This situation continues to be torturous,” she said. “After two years, we just want the truth.”
She said her son’s death has “shattered every belief system I once held.”
Myles Gray died on Aug. 13, 2015, after a “physical altercation” with Vancouver police officers.