No charges approved against Vancouver police after B.C. man died during confrontation

·3 min read

VICTORIA — The B.C. Prosecution Service says no charges have been approved against Vancouver Police Department officers involved in the arrest of a Sechelt man five years ago.

The prosecution service says Myles Gray suffered injuries including a broken eye socket, a possible partially dislocated jaw and a voice box fracture during the incident on Aug. 13, 2015.

It says Gray went into cardiac arrest while he was being restrained by police officers and died.

The 33-year-old man's cause of death could not be determined.

The Independent Investigations Office, B.C.'s police watchdog, was called in to investigate Gray's death and filed a report for the consideration of charges.

The prosecution service says the only witnesses to the incident were Vancouver police officers and it could not prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that any offence was committed.

Vancouver police spokeswoman Tania Visintin says in a statement that the incident is a tragic situation for everyone involved and the department respects the Crown's decision.

The prosecution service laid out the timeline of Gray's arrest.

Police responded to reports of an agitated man around 3 p.m. on the Vancouver-Burnaby border, with the first officer who arrived calling for backup after Gray retreated to someone's yard.

The yard was obscured by view from anyone who wasn't in it, the prosecution service says.

In a span of nine minutes, seven police officers entered the yard. At some point during his arrest, Gray broke free from attempts to handcuff him before he was tackled by an officer.

By 3:28 p.m., Gray was unconscious and in head and leg restraints, before going into cardiac arrest at 3:41 p.m. He was declared dead at about 4:20 p.m., the prosecution service says.

He suffered injuries including bruising to the body, bruising and cuts to his face, a broken eye socket, broken nose, possible partial dislocated jaw, a minor brain bleed, throat cartilage fracture, rib fracture and bilateral testicular hemorrhage.

"While all officers describe Mr. Gray as resisting and offering a threat to the officers present, accounts of what he and the officers actually did at each stage of the encounter vary considerably," the service says.

The prosecution service says the contradictions between the officers' accounts made it difficult to determine a "coherent narrative" of what happened.

None of the injuries alone would have been fatal, the service says.

Several of the police officers suffered minor injuries during the arrest.

The prosecution service also explains why there was a delay in the police watchdog's investigation into Gray's death.

"The (Independent Investigations Office) faced several challenges affecting the pace of its investigation. A key police witness refused to participate in a follow-up interview, making it necessary for the (Independent Investigations Office) to apply to B.C. Supreme Court," the statement reads.

The watchdog forwarded charges of manslaughter, aggravated assault and assault causing bodily harm for consideration.

But the prosecution service concluded there was no reasonable prospect of conviction of any officer and did not approve charges.

— By Nick Wells in Vancouver.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 16, 2020.

The Canadian Press