The Vancouver Police Board is set to vote on two recommendations that were brought forward during the BC Coroners Service inquest into the death of Myles Gray.
A report, “Jury Recommendations from the Coroner’s Inquest into the Death of Myles Gray,” is set to come to the board Thursday (June 15), listing two of the recommendations directed at the Vancouver Police Department from the inquest earlier this year.
The inquest, held April 17 to May 1, resulted in three recommendations. The two directed at the VPD were: to expedite the use of body cameras – with audio-recording capabilities – for all patrol officers; and to “review and enhance” the crisis de-escalation and containment training that VPD officers receive.
The report notes the VPD “supports these recommendations and is committed to implementing them.”
In the report, the VPD provides a “preliminary” response to each recommendation. It states it has been “exploring the feasibility” of body cameras since 2009. In November 2013, the board received a report detailing the benefits of the devices.
The VPD was also part of the submissions for the Special Committee on Reforming the Police Act, “requesting that the use of these devices by police services in BC be mandated through the Provincial Policing Standards.” In November 2022, the department formed a Body Warn Camera Committee, with Vancouver City Council approving $200,000 in funding for the pilot project the following month.
The force posted a request for proposal May 24 to obtain the necessary equipment. It closes June 19.
In reviewing and enhancing the VPD’s crisis de-escalation and containment training, the department says Crisis Intervention and De-Escalation training became mandatory in January, 2015. That followed a recommendation from a commission after the death of Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver International Airport.
The report adds that since 2012 all new recruits have been receiving this training as part of their Justice Institute of B.C. Police Academy program.
One officer said it didn’t cross her mind in the moment that mental health could be a factor. Const. Hardeep Sahota told the jury that she couldn’t remember if she had ever received specialized training on how to respond to incidents where mental illness may be at play.
The jury found Gray died by homicide, a death due to injury intentionally inflicted by another person, although coroner Larry Marzinzik advised the jury before it began its deliberations that it was a neutral term that doesn’t imply fault or blame. The verdict wasn’t unanimous, with four of five jury members agreeing.
Gray was beat by police in August 2015 that left him with injuries including ruptured testicles and fractures in his eye socket, nose, voice box and rib.
The inquest opened with testimony from Melissa Gray, who described her brother as goofy, kind and loyal. She said Gray had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder around 1999, but he’d been stable ever since. He operated a business on the Sunshine Coast.
The initial 911 call was about an agitated man who had sprayed a woman with a garden hose.
– With files from The Canadian Press and Jane Skrypnek