More than three years after Myles Gray died following a violent encounter with Vancouver police, the exact cause of the 33-year old Sechelt businessman’s death remains a mystery.
“Very traumatizing” is how Gray’s mother, Margie, describes the agonizing wait for answers in her son’s case, which is being probed by the province’s police watchdog, the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. (IIO).
“Very traumatizing to live without my son, without our son,” she said.
Gray worked as a wholesale distributor of floral evergreens. On Aug. 13, 2015, he was making deliveries in Vancouver when police received reports of a man harassing a woman by spraying a garden hose at her near Joffre Avenue and Southeast Marine Drive.
According to an October 2017 petition filed by the IIO in B.C. Supreme Court, the first VPD officer on scene reported an aggressive confrontation with Gray and called for backup. Once extra officers arrived, pepper spray was used and a physical altercation broke out in a backyard garden on Joffre Avenue involving Gray and eight VPD officers. There were no civilian or independent witnesses to what happened. Gray did not survive the incident and some of the officers were injured.
A forensic autopsy was conducted, but the coroner was unable to determine how Gray died.
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Now the B.C. Coroners Service is seeking outside help in what it considers an “open investigation.”
In a statement to Global News, Andy Watson of the B.C. Coroners Service said the organization is “working to identify additional forensic pathology resources to aid in the investigation. As in all our investigations into sudden and unexpected deaths, the Coroners Service will look to determine who died, where, when, how and by what means; and thus, establishing the cause of death is part of the Coroners Service’s mandate.”
Getting a second opinion is something for which Gray’s mother has long advocated.
“I don’t know if they will ever find the definitive cause of death but at least I know they’re trying,” she said.
Autopsy results reveal Gray suffered 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 and multifocal bruising to his thigh and right arm.
“His list of injuries are quite extensive so I guess they’re trying to pinpoint who did what and when,” Margie Gray told Global News.
“They’re looking for something more definitive, the last blow.”
The B.C. Coroners Service says it will share information with the province’s police watchdog and the Gray family as it becomes available.
“What we are hoping is that these additional resources will help us to understand the facts better so we can understand what the truth of the matter is as best as possible,” the IIO’s chief civilian director Ron MacDonald told Global News.
Gray’s mother hopes a new set of eyes on her son’s case will help explain how a man with no criminal record and no history of mental illness died in a police incident that was only witnessed by those involved.
“There’s just nobody that could ever replace him. Ever,” she said of her son.