Officer told not to make handwritten notes after death of Myles Gray, B.C. inquest hears

Click to play video: 'Kicks, fists, pepper spray, choke holds, and batons – the weapons VPD used to subdue Myles Gray'
Kicks, fists, pepper spray, choke holds, and batons – the weapons VPD used to subdue Myles Gray
WATCH: The five first police officers to confront Myles Gray the day he died in August 2015 have now given their testimony at the inquest into Gray's death and described the actions they took to subdue him, including, kicks, punches, pepper spray, and batons. Emad Agahi reports – Apr 20, 2023

A Vancouver police officer said a senior member of the force who was acting as a union representative told him not to make any handwritten notes about the confrontation that resulted in the death of 33-year-old Myles Gray in 2015.

Const. Joshua Wong told a B.C. coroner’s inquest into Gray’s death that he was sitting at the department with his notebook out when that person told him not to make notes, a request he said he thought was “very odd.”

Wong said he couldn’t recall who the person was, but it was not Ralph Kaisers, the head of the Vancouver Police Union. He typed up a statement when he got home, and he was instructed months later to upload it to a police database, Wong told the inquest in Burnaby, B.C., on Thursday.

Click to play video: 'Coroner’s jury examines final moments of Myles Gray’s life'
Coroner’s jury examines final moments of Myles Gray’s life
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Gray died following a beating by several officers that left him with injuries including a fractured eye socket, a crushed voice box and a ruptured testicle.

He had been in Vancouver making a delivery to a florist’s supply shop for the business he operated on the Sunshine Coast, and the inquest has heard the initial 911 call was about an agitated man who had sprayed a woman with a garden hose.

Answering a question from a member of the jury, Wong said he doesn’t know why the union representative told him not to make notes.

“I’m assuming it was because everything was so fresh and our adrenalin and our mind was pumping. That’s just an assumption, though, that’s just a guess.”

Click to play video: 'Inquest hears from first officer about death of Myles Gray'
Inquest hears from first officer about death of Myles Gray

He told the inquest Gray was “actively fighting” one of three officers already at the scene when he arrived in response to a call for backup, while another officer had “slurred speech” and told Wong that Gray had punched him in the face.

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Wong said he saw Gray as a violent and dangerous person who was assaulting police officers and needed to be controlled immediately.

“Of course, I did not want to use lethal force,” he told the inquest, saying that would be the last option they would have used.

The BC Prosecution Service announced in 2020 that charges would not be approved against the officers. It said police were the only witnesses to the incident and the Crown couldn’t prove an offence had been committed.

Wong said he joined in the struggle to restrain Gray, who he described as “super strong” and soaked in sweat with heat radiating from his skin. He believed Gray had used some kind of drug, Wong testified.

He delivered two to four knee strikes to the side of Gray’s torso and, finding they were “ineffective,” then punched Gray a similar number of times in the face, he said.

“I was genuinely afraid that he was going to beat me,” Wong said of the struggle.

Click to play video: 'No timeline for disciplinary investigation into actions of VPD officers at Myles Gray inquest'
No timeline for disciplinary investigation into actions of VPD officers at Myles Gray inquest

He told the inquest he struck Gray in the arm with his baton and deployed pepper spray into Gray’s face before two more officers arrived. Wong was in uniform and told Gray he was a police officer, but testified that he didn’t think Gray “understood who we were or why we were there.”

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Wong told the jury he had no recollection of Gray being handcuffed, but he remembers another officer yelling that no one should put pressure on Gray’s upper body, head or neck as he lay on his stomach with cuffs on behind his back.

Officers noticed Gray’s skin was turning blue, so they removed the handcuffs, put him on his back and one of them began chest compressions, he said.

“It appeared that Const. (Derek) Cain’s first aid brought him back to being conscious, as he immediately began kicking and flailing and fighting once again,” Wong testified.

“He was also screaming somebody’s name, a male’s name, again, I’m not sure exactly what it was, before he passed away.”

There had been no signs of distress before Gray’s skin turned blue, he said.

A lawyer for Gray’s family, Ian Donaldson, suggested to Wong that he “took part in this beating that led to this man’s death.”

Wong replied that he was “only thinking of my own safety at the time.”

Additional Vancouver police officers are expected to testify at the inquest that began Monday with testimony from Gray’s sister, Melissa Gray.

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She described her brother as goofy and kind, saying he’d been diagnosed with bipolar disorder in high school, around 1999, but he’d been stable ever since.

The jury won’t be able to make findings of legal responsibility at the inquest but may make recommendations to prevent similar deaths in the future.

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