British Columbia

Myles Gray suffered multiple broken bones in fight with police, prior to his death, court petition reveals

B.C.'s independent police watchdog is turning to the courts in an attempt to compel a Vancouver police officer to co-operate in the investigation into the violent death of Myles Gray.

Sechelt, B.C., businessman died after violent struggle with as many as 8 Vancouver police officers

Myles Gray died after an altercation with six or seven Vancouver police officers in August 2015. (Submitted by Margie Reed)

A court filing from B.C.'s police watchdog has made public the gruesome list of injuries suffered by Myles Gray in his fatal encounter with Vancouver police two years ago.

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. filed a petition in B.C. Supreme Court on Tuesday, asking for an order directing an officer who witnessed the altercation to sit for a second interview.

The petition alleges Const. Hardeep Sahota has refused numerous requests from the IIO.

Gray, a 33-year-old businessman from Sechelt, died after a violent struggle with as many as eight Vancouver police officers in August 2015. Gray was unarmed, and the officers were the only witnesses to the altercation.

According to the IIO's petition, a forensic autopsy revealed a long list of injuries to Gray's body, including a "fractured voice box; nasal fracture; dislocated jaw; fractured right orbital eye socket; fractured posterior right third rib; fractured sternum; hemorrhagic injury of one testicle; multi-focal bruising to thigh and right arm." 

Investigators say they have yet to determine the exact cause of death.

Myles Gray's family has waited 26 months for answers in his death. (Mark and Margie Gray)

Officers made no notes, petition alleges

On the day of Gray's death, police were called to South East Marine Drive after receiving a report that a man was harassing a woman by spraying her with a garden hose. Sahota was first to respond and called for backup after an "aggressive confrontation" with Gray, according to the petition.

The ultimate encounter with eight officers took place in a backyard on Joffre Avenue in Burnaby, hidden from view by bushes and trees.

The probe into what happened has now dragged on for 26 months, thanks in part to a standoff between Vancouver officers and the IIO over co-operation with investigators.

The IIO's petition has also revealed allegations of incomplete record keeping by the eight officers who dealt with Gray.

The court document alleges that none of the officers made any notes about the altercation, contrary to VPD policy. It says seven of them did submit evidence pages to PRIME, the police database, but not until at least five months after Gray had died.

Gray's mother Margie is calling on the police department to come clean.

"This situation continues to be tortuous for the whole family. We have lost our Myles by the hands of those who are sworn to protect us. We want answers. We want the truth."

'Lost confidence'

The dispute between IIO investigators and Vancouver police has been simmering for months.

The union representing the officers said this spring it has "lost confidence 100 per cent" in the independent body, and that officers wanted to be allowed to review their notes or listen to archived radio transmissions before interviews.

But the IIO's petition alleges Sahota was told she could review her PRIME evidence page and a transcript of her previous interview before sitting down with investigators a second time. Her police union lawyer objected to the stipulation that could only happen inside the IIO office, according to an email included in the petition.

VPD spokesperson Const. Jason Doucette said he couldn't comment on the petition but wrote in an email: "This has been a long, difficult process for everyone involved, including Mr. Gray's family and friends and our officers and their families."

This is the second time this year the IIO has asked the court to intervene in its dispute with the Vancouver police force. The first petition, filed in March, calls for Chief Adam Palmer and seven of his officers to co-operate with the probe into the fatal shooting of a man outside a Canadian Tire last year.

Under a memorandum of understanding between B.C. police departments and the IIO, officers who have witnessed an incident involving death or serious injury are required to co-operate with IIO investigators.

Officers suspected of causing harm don't have that responsibility. They have the same right to protect themselves from self-incrimination as any other citizen.

With files from Eric Rankin