Blue Line

Officers told not to make handwritten notes after death of Myles Gray, inquest hears

April 20, 2023  By The Canadian Press

Apr. 20, 2023, Burnaby, B.C. – Two Vancouver police officers testified at a British Columbia coroner’s inquest that they were told not to make handwritten notes about a confrontation that resulted in the death of 33-year-old Myles Gray in 2015.

Const. Joshua Wong told the inquest into Gray’s death a senior member of the force who was acting as a union representative told him not to make any handwritten notes, a request he said he thought was “very odd.”

Another officer to testify on Thursday, Det. Const. Nick Thompson, agreed while answering questions from a lawyer for Gray’s family that he would have made handwritten notes in the case if he hadn’t received direction from his union not to.

Thompson agreed with the lawyer that the directive was passed along by a superior officer while he was still at the scene where Gray died.


Wong testified that he couldn’t recall who told him not to write anything in his notebook, but it was not Ralph Kaisers, the head of the Vancouver Police Union.

Gray died shortly after 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.

Vancouver Police Chief Adam Palmer was asked about Wong’s testimony while speaking to the media at an unrelated event Thursday.

He said the department has a policy on note-taking and “officers know what that policy is,” but he wouldn’t provide details to avoid influencing the inquest.

Wong told the jury 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.”

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.

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.

The B.C. 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.

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

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.”

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.”

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.”

Thompson told the inquiry that he’s part of the police department’s mental-health unit, working with Car 87, a program that pairs an officer with a mental-health nurse.

At the time of Gray’s death, the officer said he had received police training in communication with people experiencing mental-health challenges, as well as training in crisis intervention and de-escalation.

Thompson testified that Gray was screaming in a “primal” or “demonic” way.

He said he joined the struggle to subdue and handcuff Gray, telling him police were placing him under arrest, and “just do as we say, you won’t get hurt.”

At one point while resisting a “hobble” strap the officers were trying to tighten around his legs, Gray released a “gigantic kick,” Thompson said.

“That started kind of the next section, which was now, he is trying to break free, he’s doing so very violently, and now we need to get him, you know, safely in custody.”

Gray was trying to stand up, throwing forceful punches with the hand that had one handcuff still attached from the start of the struggle, the officer told the inquest.

“I remember thinking to myself, I’m going to need to break Mr. Gray’s wrist to stop him from doing this,” Thompson said.

Questioned by Donaldson, Thompson agreed that he likely delivered the kicking blow that caused Gray’s ruptured testicle while aiming for is upper leg.

“If I had my testicles ruptured, I would be in an enormous amount of pain, and I would be absolutely incapacitated. He was not,” Thompson said of Gray.

Several additional Vancouver police officers are expected to testify at the inquest that began Monday.

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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