Coroners investigation into VPD-involved death of Myles Gray "ongoing"

Dec 17 2020, 4:47 pm

A day after the BC Prosecution Service (BCPS) announced that the Vancouver Police officers involved in the 2015 arrest – and eventual death – of Myles Gray will not face charges in connection with the incident, the BC Coroners Service said on Thursday that its investigation into the cause of Gray’s death is still “ongoing.”

In a statement, Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe said the incident was a “tragic loss of a member of our community.”

She added that while an Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia investigation is ongoing or the BCPS is considering charges, the BC Coroners Service’s investigation cannot be concluded.

“The Coroners Act requires deaths that occur while an individual is detained by or in the custody of police be reviewed at inquest unless a legislative exception applies,” said Lapointe.

Now, with Wednesday’s announcement from the BCPS, Lapointe said the coroner’s investigation will be completed as quickly as possible.

And “when the coroner completes the investigation into Gray’s death, this matter will be reviewed by the chief coroner to determine whether to direct an inquest,” she added.

On Wednesday, the BCPS said its decision comes after an investigation into Gray’s arrest on August 13, 2015, when he was walking in the area of Southeast Marine Drive in Burnaby.

On that day, during an encounter with a local resident, Gray reportedly took her garden hose and sprayed her with water.

The woman’s son, who observed the incident, called 911.

The BCPS said Gray was described as “agitated and disturbed with incoherent speech” by witnesses.

A VPD member who responded to the 911 call and had dealings Gray, also observed that he became agitated, causing the officer to call for back-up.

Gray then climbed the stairs into the raised yard of a residence. At that point, two other VPD officers arrived on scene and the three officers climbed the stairs to the yard.

During the following nine minutes, four other officers arrived and entered the yard, where efforts were made to arrest Gray. The only eyewitnesses are the seven VPD members who were involved in the arrest. There were no civilian witnesses or video.

The BCPS said that at 3:28 pm, Gray was unconscious, restrained with hand and leg restraints, and suffering obvious injuries. Shortly before 3:41 pm, he went into cardiac arrest. At 4:21 pm, Gray was declared dead.

A post-mortem examination could not determine a discrete cause of death. It did reveal, however, extensive injuries to Gray,  which were “likely suffered during his arrest.”

These injuries included bruising to the body and extremities, bruising and lacerations to his face, an orbital bone fracture, nose fracture, possible partial dislocated jaw, a minor brain bleed, throat cartilage fracture, rib fracture, and bilateral testicular hemorrhage. None of these injuries would have been fatal in itself.

The incident was investigated by the Independent Investigations Office (IIO), after which the Chief Civilian Director of the IIO determined that there were “reasonable grounds” to believe the officers “may have committed offences” and submitted a report to the BCPS, as a result.

However, the BCPS said that in its investigation, it concluded that the evidence did not meet its standards for charges.

“The only witnesses to the physical altercation and restraint of Mr. Gray by the police were the attending members of the VPD,” said the BCPS in a statement.

“Based on the evidence available, the BCPS is not able to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the officers committed any offence in relation to the incident.”