Members of a Violence-Prone Department brutally killed Myles Gray

For over 2 weeks, the family of Myles Gray and supporters sat in a tiny gallery at Metrotown Tower II, hearing evidence that related to the killing of Myles on August 13, 2015.

Yesterday, the jurors from the Coroners Inquest released their verdict. The jurors determined that Myles Thomas Gray died on August 13, 2015; his stated cause of death was: Cardio pulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual and restraint (involving the application of OC spray, multiple blunt force injuries, neck compression, dorsal handcuffing, and forcible prone positioning); in an individual exhibiting features of acute behavioural disturbance.

The coroner’s inquest jury classified this death as homicide.

The jury also released 3 non-binding recommendations.


Over the last 7 years, the family of Myles – including his mother Margie, younger sister Melissa, and father Mark, have had to piece together what happened on a hot August day, in a secluded yard off Joffre Street, at the border of Vancouver and Burnaby.

Myles Gray's family, friends and counsel

Family and friends of Myles Gray at the entrance to Metrotown Tower II | April 20, 2023

Last week, speaking to the media, Melissa Gray, recounted her brother’s cause of death, based on evidence from forensic pathologist Dr. M. Orde:

I want the world to know that the truth came out today...

“I want the world to know that the truth came out today...He died from cardio-pulmonary arrest complicated by law enforcement, subdual and restraint, and by complications of the OC spray, multiple blunt force injuries, neck compression, dorsal handcuffs, a forcible position, and in the prone position, of a person in acute behavioural disturbance...And that is how my brother died.”

The Coroner’s Inquest, presided over by Larry Marzinzik, was the first time that 14 Vancouver Police Department (VPD) officers who attended the yard where Myles Gray died spoke publicly about what transpired that day. Though 11 officers directly recounted the force they directly applied to Myles Gray – including escalating actions – none could recount any specific injuries. What they described was something akin to creative fiction – Myles Gray felt no pain, Myles Gray had superhuman strength, Myles Gray’s muscles rippled beneath their fingers. Counsel for both the Chief Constable and the VPD members clearly planned to use the disproven theory of “excited delirium” to manufacture a spontaneous cause of death for Myles, that diagnosis is increasingly debunked. In fact – a CBC article noted that “the American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric Association have dismissed the diagnosis entirely.”

Though the presiding coroner offered one caution to jurors about the reliability of an “excited delirium” diagnosis, multiple VPD officers and paramedics suggested that Myles Gray was in this fictive state – which the VPD Regulations & Procedures Manual still references. But surely, Myles Gray felt pain. How could he not? He was hit with oleoresin capsicum spray (also known as “OC” or pepper spray), fists, vascular neck restraints, baton strikes, knee strikes, kicks, a hobble was applied to his ankles, he was double-cuffed behind his back, and held down in a prone (face-down) position.

Every VPD officer who testified minimized the injuries they observed – and many could not recall even a single injury. First responders – including firefighters and paramedics – offered different testimony. Upon arrival, Myles’ extensive injuries were immediately apparent. As one advanced life support paramedic said: “He was dead when we got there.”

A damning photograph of Myles' face, flashed briefly and glimpsed by members of the gallery, depicted a profoundly injured face, which one audience member described as an “unrecognizable mass". Unfortunately, the presiding coroner did not allow this photo to be included when Ian Donaldson K.C., counsel for the family, applied to introduce the photograph in evidence during the inquest.

The brutal way that Myles Gray was murdered should shake us to our core. Really, every death in custody should. Beyond that, the vile actions of the Vancouver Police Union – which interfered in the investigation and immediately advised officers to violate VPD policy and not takes notes - should call into question their increasingly powerful lobbying actions. Of course, the Vancouver Police Union endorsed our current Mayor.

Supporters holding signs and a prominently displayed large blue banner which reads: "Violence Prone VPD Officers Murdered Myles Gray In The Most Heinous Way"

Supporters hold up banners on the first day of the Coroners Inquest | April 17, 2023

While recommendations focus on body-worn cameras, improved training or “crisis de-escalation and containment training” and retention of toxicology samples, we can’t lose sight of the basic fact – repeatedly reiterated by Myles’ family: he was in distress. He didn’t need a police response. He needed a helping hand – perhaps a cold glass of water, a shady place to sit, or a cell phone to borrow so he could call someone safe. Retraining police (many of whom stated that they couldn’t even recall relevant training, while under oath) doesn’t remove them from the equation. In fact, the police themselves all stated that there was no training that would prevent what happened to Myles Gray from happening to someone else. Of course, 7 of these officers still face disciplinary proceedings regarding their role in Myles’ death and the subsequent investigation, so their answers could also be informed by self/job preservation.

Instead of continually reforming violent systems, we need to defund police budgets and redirect that funding to wholly-civilian mental health response, we need to stop forcing families to litigate for justice when their loved ones have been killed by police. We need dedicated funding for families and survivors of police-based violence – to meet their basic needs, to provide trauma therapy and healing, and to ensure culturally safe and affirming care in light of state-sanctioned violence. No family should have to fundraise for a funeral.

While we didn’t have the opportunity to meet Myles Gray, we have learned so much about him through his family’s powerful words. Melissa introduced us to her big brother on the first day of the inquest. She shared that she sees his grin on her son’s face, and thinks of him when she’s with her kids.

“Myles Gray was a lover, not a fighter. He felt like everyone was a friend, shared his sense of familiarity, his sense of humour.”


Various people holding various signs. In the forefront there is a prominently displayed large banner that reads: "#Justice For Myles Gray Unarmed 33 year old beaten to death by 7 VPD NO ANSWERS"

Supporters hold up banners on the first day of the Coroners Inquest | April 17, 2023

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