Sunshine Coast-Powell River MLA Nicholas Simons is pledging to help Mark and Margie Gray find answers about their son Myles’ death after an altercation with Vancouver police that occurred more than 17 months ago.
Myles Gray, 33, died Aug. 13, 2015 after he went for a walk in a Burnaby neighbourhood, confronted a homeowner about her water use during a drought period and the homeowner called police. When seven Vancouver Police Department officers responded, an altercation ensued in a wooded area and Myles was pronounced dead on the scene.
That’s the extent of what the Grays know. They don’t know exactly how Myles died, what happened in the wooded area or if any police officers are going to be held responsible.
The Independent Investigations Office (IIO) has been looking into the case but has yet to file a report and no information is being given to the family or the media until that report is complete.
Waiting and wondering and knowing the officers involved in the altercation are still on active duty is almost unbearable for the Grays, who feel there is no urgency by officials to figure out what happened.
“It’s almost like they’re waiting for time to clock out so it gets swept under a big carpet,” Margie said.
Mark and Margie were at Simons’ office this week asking for assistance, and the MLA pledged to meet with the justice minister and bring the Grays to Victoria in the hopes of presenting the couple and asking questions on their behalf when the Legislature resumes.
“It’s not always up to me if I get to ask a question. It’s up to my colleagues, because we only get 30 minutes a day, but I’ll make strong points about why this needs to be asked,” Simons told the Grays.
“It will be about the right of parents to have answers and not take two years to get them.”
One question that has been answered for the family is whether Myles had any drugs in his system at the time of the altercation.
“He had no illicit drugs in him,” Margie said, noting she’s been upset that some people have been spreading rumours that Myles was on drugs and that was the reason police resorted to using force the day he died.
“So he had nothing in his system, but whether the police were on any drugs we’ll never know because they didn’t have to give any samples.”
That’s one of the things the Grays hope to change through their lawsuit against the police officers involved, the city, the Vancouver Police Board and the police department as a whole.
Margie also wants to see police officers get extra training in de-escalation techniques in the future.
The lawsuit is stalled awaiting information that’s expected to come out in the IIO report. The IIO has no firm timeline for the report to be completed.
Simons said he believes government involvement is warranted at this point.
“It’s about having confidence in a system that’s going to be fair. We need that for people, to have faith in a justice system that is subjective, impartial and fair. But when you have a delay like this it certainly does not add to the confidence,” he said.
“It’s an essential cornerstone of our system that we have independence in this kind of area, and if it looks like it’s being interfered with, through lack of sufficient resources, or anything else, then we need to bring that out.”
He expects to meet with the Justice Minister Suzanne Anton this month and bring the Grays to Victoria to speak in the Legislature in March.
“What I always tell government is that my job is to nudge them to the right answer and if that doesn’t work, we escalate, step by step,” Simons said.