Vancouver police officer involved in Myles Gray’s death testifies to coroner’s inquest

A police officer testified Tuesday (April 18) that she feared for her life when she encountered Myles Gray in 2015, but revealed that during the violent multiplayer interaction that led to Gray’s death , with no plans and hardly any downgrade strategies used.

constant. Hardeep Sahota said at the coroner’s inquest that she was summoned to the Southeast Marine Drive and Boundary Road area along the Burnaby-Vancouver border on Aug. 13, 2015, because of reports of a disturbance.

Two nearby residents called 911 that afternoon after Gray, 33, approached a woman in the yard, grabbed a garden hose from her hand, and sprayed her. The woman, Songur Reza, told the jury through an interpreter that Gray also called her “sexy”, which she took as a comment on her looks. Reza, her son and a neighbor friend all testified that Gray appeared to be insane and they thought he might have been drunk or on drugs at the time.

Gray’s sister testified Monday that her brother suffers from bipolar disorder but has been psychotic in about 15 years.

Sahota told the jury that when she spotted Gray not far from the source of the 911 call, she saw him talking to himself and waving his hands in the air. She pulled over her police car and began talking to him to assess the situation.

Sahota said she asked Gray what he was doing and if he was okay, to which he replied he was fine. When she questioned him further, Gray became so frustrated that he clenched his fists and started moving closer to her while looking fiercely into her eyes, she said.

Terrified, Sahota said she returned to her car, but Gray followed her and began using his hands to try to force down or break her driver’s side window.

“At that point I feared for my life,” Sahota, who was with the Vancouver Police Department for six years at the time, testified. She radioed for help, then recalled Gray saying something along the lines of “You better call for backup.”

Sahota said it did not occur to her at the time that mental health might be a factor, and told the jury on Tuesday that she did not recall having received specific training on how to respond to incidents that could be related to mental illness. Play.

Sahota said that while waiting for other officers to arrive, she saw Gray try to pull over multiple vehicles — telling a driver “Help me, save me, this officer is trying to assault me” — before disappearing in a setting Nice steps up, into a wooded area next to homes at 8375 Joffre Avenue. Sahota said she got out of the car and walked all the way to see Gray standing at the top of the steps.

When he spotted her, Sahota said Gray put his arms in an “Incredible Hulk” pose and yelled “Welcome to the jungle!”

A map provided by the BC Coroners Service shows two addresses where 911 was called about Myles Gray (3626 and 3640 SE Marine Drive) and where he died in a standoff with police on August 15, 2013 (8375 Joffre Avenue). (Photo Provided by BC Coroners Service)

Terrified again, she returned to her car until two plainclothes officers — Constables Eric Birzneck and Kory Folkestad — arrived. Once they arrived, Sahota said they took immediate action. Sahota told the new officer Gray was aggressive and he was going to fight, and the three followed him up the steps.

“There was no plan,” Sahota testified.

When police reached the top of the steps, Sahota said they found Gray standing near someone’s front door. She said Birzneck put Gray on the ground, but no officers attempted to communicate further with him or explain that he was under arrest until Birzneck sprayed Gray in the face with pepper spray.

According to Sahota, Gray put his hands on his face and bent forward, giving her and Folkestad the opportunity to handcuff him. But Sahota said she could only handcuff one of Gray’s wrists before he broke free from the officers’ restraints.

“He started yelling loudly and ran a few feet away from us. He ended up waving his handcuffed right hand and yelling ‘Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! “

Sahota said Folkestad tried to grab Gray, but he punched the officer in the face. Sahota and Birzneck then took out their batons and started hitting Gray with them. Birzneck hugged Gray and put him on his back before the three officers were able to restrain him.

More police came, and someone used a stumbling block — a nylon restraint strap — to hold Gray’s ankles together. Sahota said she grabbed the stumbling block, but Gray continued to move his leg, so a co-worker began beating Gray. The officer accidentally punched Sahota in the hand, and she said the “extreme pain” forced her to leave the scene to seek medical attention.

Not long after, Gray suffered a cardiac arrest and died. An autopsy revealed a fractured nose, sternum and eye socket, a dislocated jaw, a ruptured testicle and a fractured throat.

Sahota claimed Tuesday that she did not recall which officers were responsible for the injuries.

Asked by multiple jurors if she could have done anything differently in the situation in hindsight, or if mental health training would have helped, Sahota said no.

More details about Gray’s final moments are expected to emerge over the rest of the week, with a long line of police officers testifying. They were the only ones who witnessed his death.

The purpose of a coroner is not to hold accountable, but to determine the circumstances of someone’s death and make recommendations on how to prevent similar incidents in the future. The B.C. Prosecution Service declined to press criminal charges against any of the officers involved, saying there was insufficient evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that they committed a crime.

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