Myles Gray:
The coroner’s inquest
changes nothing

B.C. Solicitor General Mike Farnworth plans to evade
police accountability by manipulating identity politics

May 9, 2023

Parents with photo of Myles Gray

Myles Gray’s parents with a photo of their son.


One of the worst outrages of B.C. policing in many years, the death of Myles Gray returned to public prominence during a coroner’s inquest of April 17 to May 1. With previously undisclosed graphic details, the proceedings further disgraced the Vancouver Police Department. Even so, seven VPD cops who shouldn’t be cops will remain cops, thanks to B.C.’s woefully inadequate system of police accountability. The inquest won’t change that or prevent similar deaths.

Travel and a subsequent injury prevented me from following the proceedings. Although the inquest was live-streamed, the Coroner’s Service hasn’t publicly archived the video. That stuck me with media accounts.

Despite some vagaries in reporting, journalists seem to have adequately covered aspects including the enormity of Gray’s injuries, the cops’ suspiciously new version of events, the controversy about “excited delirium” and the verdict. Here are some notes about topics that the media underplayed or missed.


A couple of the media lapses

I didn’t see any reporter mention that coroner Larry Marzinzik is a retired Mountie. Reporters referred to Tom Stamatakis as a VPD union rep but not as a highly influential cop lobbyist. (More on that below.) That’s not surprising because no one in B.C. journalism shows much awareness about police accountability.


Body cameras: When and how?
What about other police forces?

Prior to their seemingly rehearsed inquest testimony, the seven cops evaded criminal charges by making completely divergent statements. Without independent witnesses, the cop tactic demonstrated the need for body cameras.

Thus the jury’s main recommendation was to “expedite” the body cameras that Vancouver police have been dragging out towards a 2025 goal. Potentially left wide open is a massive loophole: Cops might be allowed to turn the cameras on or off to their advantage.

Also this long-overdue recommendation (not requirement) applies only to Vancouver cops. Alberta, for example, has announced plans to impose body cameras on all of the province’s police forces.

An April 2022 “legislative” report on revamping B.C.’s Police Act rejected suggestions for body cameras. (More on that report below.)


Vancouver police after the beating death of Myles Gray

The spin begins as Vancouver police discuss
their just-completed fatal beating of Myles Gray.


The VPD make a sick joke
out of another jury recommendation

The call for additional training to calm agitated people seems like a good idea. But trust Vancouver cops to fuck that right up. At least two of Gray’s killers already had the training, VPD style.

Eric Birzneck was a “VPD crisis negotiator” when he took part in the beating. Here’s his approach, according to CTV’s account of the proceedings.

Birzneck testified that before the three officers entered the yard to confront Gray, Birzneck pulled out his extendable baton and concealed it behind his back.

The officers testified they went into the yard and demanded that Gray get down on the ground – and when he didn’t, Birzneck used pepper spray on him.

Birzneck testified that’s when police went “hands on” with Gray, and a violent altercation ensued.

…. Birzneck also testified he used what police call a vascular neck restraint on Gray, who an autopsy revealed had a fractured larynx among his many injuries, which also included a brain bleed, fractured bones in his face and ruptured testicles.

Birzneck is now a VPD use-of-force instructor.

Another of Gray’s specially trained killers was Nick Thompson. As CP reported:

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’s kick to the groin likely ruptured Gray’s testicle.

Thompson works on the VPD’s Car 87 program, in which he attends mental health calls with a psychiatric nurse.

The jury also appeared to recommend (the coroner’s statement wasn’t very clear) more disciplined behaviour when several cops deal with a conflict. This mob beating sometimes seems like a panicked frenzy and other times a biker shit-kicking. Possibly it was a combination of both, with some cops scared witless and others reveling in the violence. Both scenarios reflect cop culture.


Union interference: A criminal offence,
a Police Act infraction or Tom Stamatakis’ prerogative?

Tom Stamatakis powerful Canadian police lobbyist

Out of respect for the ongoing lobbying
taking place, Mr. Farnworth will not be offering
comment on Tom Stamatakis’ interference.


Some of the cops told the inquest that union reps told them not to write notes about the incident. Details were vague but the names of union bosses Tom Stamatakis and Ralph Kaisers came up.

Union interference shouldn’t excuse cops from irresponsibility. But additionally a question arises of whether the union bosses might face criminal charges like obstruction of justice.

Or maybe discipline under B.C.’s Police Act. Union bosses often have a job that’s held open for them should they leave the union payroll. So would Stamatakis and Kaisers come under Police Act authority?

These are moot questions, however, because of Stamatakis’ power. Simultaneously holding a number of cop-associated positions, he heads a strong nationwide cop lobby. Plenty of circumstantial evidence suggests that it largely directs the B.C. government on cop issues, especially police oversight. That’s seen, for example, in the close co-operation of otherwise warring political parties whenever police matters come up. This happens in the legislature and on all-party legislative committees that consistently thwart police accountability.

A highly plausible practice would have Stamatakis consulting closely with the ex-cops who hold senior positions in B.C.’s ministry of Solicitor General. Those ex-cop bureaucrats then determine policing policies and Police Act legislation, probably with a few minor concessions to the Solicitor General’s political expediency. SGs in both the BC Liberal and NDP governments have consistently supported police interests. Current SG Mike Farnworth shows far more canniness than his predecessors, but no less deference to cops.

Farnworth won’t mess with Stamatakis. No one in B.C. will.


B.C.’s legal establishment: Staunch cop allies

Cops and their compliant politicians aren’t the only ones propping up B.C.’s cop status quo. So are establishment lawyers in the cop-friendly B.C. Prosecution Service as well as other agencies and branches of the B.C. government. The Law Society of British Columbia used flagrant dishonesty to support Stan Lowe’s corrupt career as police complaint commissioner.


B.C.’s salaried activists say nothing

The B.C. Civil Liberties Association stayed silent during the inquest. B.C.’s other bogus activists, the Pivot Legal Society, broke its silence to organize a demonstration/publicity op just before the hearing. But Pivot opposes the use of police body cameras.

Despite their media-granted prominence on the topic, neither group says anything substantial on any aspect of police accountability. Both groups get their funding from B.C.’s political and legal establishment.


Seven cops remain secure in their jobs, thanks to B.C.’s
slow and futile system of police accountability

It was clear from the outset and this inquest confirms it: These seven inadequates are manifestly unsuited to handle conflict or give evidence. They’re either vicious, cowardly or both. And they’re liars.

B.C.’s Independent Investigations Office might now re-open its criminal investigation, which lasted more than three and a half years after Gray’s death and required a court order to get co-operation from VPD cop Hardeep Sahota.

But the IIO would have to get criminal charges approved by B.C.’s cop-friendly B.C. Prosecution Service. In December 2020 the Crown refused a charge recommendation from the first IIO investigation because “contradictions between officers’ accounts in key areas are incapable of resolution such that it is difficult to determine a coherent narrative of events.”

That decision, which ignored other avenues of prosecution, came more than five years after Gray died.

In December 2020 B.C.’s Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner ordered the re-opening of a Police Act investigation (not a criminal investigation) that was put on hold when the IIO criminal investigation began in 2015. The OPCC’s stated goal is to “examine all of the actions of the officers.” Transit police chief Dave Jones forwarded his report to the agency last February, according to a media leak. As allowed by B.C.’s Police Act, the OPCC process has been secret so far and might remain so.

Although the cops could get fired, any Police Act discipline would not likely reflect the enormity of their actions.

A lawsuit by Gray’s family may well succeed. But any award would come from taxpayers with no effect on the malefactor cops or on future cop procedure.

Two of Gray’s killers face unrelated allegations. Beau Spencer is one of three VPD cops facing trial for criminal assault after seriously injuring a man during a 2017 arrest. Derek Cain faces a lawsuit for inappropriate sexual conduct towards Nicole Chan, a VPD cop who committed suicide in 2019.

But nearly eight years after Gray died, all seven cops seem secure in their careers.


The future: B.C. police accountability versus B.C. NDP,
B.C. United, B.C. Greens, B.C. “activists” and B.C. media

BC Solicitor General Mike Farnworth opposes police accountability

B.C. Solicitor General Mike Farnworth has long opposed
police accountability
while in opposition and in government,
in the legislature and on legislative committees.


NDP Solicitor General Mike Farnworth seems ready to evade Police Act reform by manipulating identity politics. In that manner he can bypass all of B.C.’s badly needed reforms, from body cameras to timely investigations, effective repercussions under the Police Act and Criminal Code, and transparency and accountability for the OPCC and the RCMP’s Civilian [sic] Review and Complaints Commission.

The strategy seems apparent from an April 2022 report. Supposedly written by an all-party legislative committee, it was more likely ghost-written at the behest of Farnworth’s ex-cop senior bureaucrats. The recommendations are confused and vague, possibly a deliberate ploy to allow lots of room for interpretation. But the overall tenor of the report advocates separate procedures for separate identity groups, along with paid positions for identity group representatives.

The report’s authors rejected a number of crucial suggestions from the public, including the need for body cameras and for civilian investigation of cops accused of sexual misconduct. There’s no clear call for transparency and accountability for police oversight agencies like the OPCC and CRCC. The report recommends nothing that would deter OPCC cover-ups (like these four), let alone outrages like Gray’s beating or the RCMP cover-up of allegations that Prince George Mounties committed sexual misconduct against teenage native girls.


Former Solicitor General Mike Morris implicated in RCMP scandal

Mike Morris, the BC United opposition critic for Solicitor General,
a former SG himself and an ex-cop, holds ultimate responsibility
up to 2005 for the Prince George RCMP sex misconduct cover-up
As an MLA he opposes police accountability.


B.C. will fall for the identity politics gambit. It’s a warm and fuzzy apartheid masking a corrupt police accountability process. No one who’s allowed a public voice will oppose the tactic and few will even see through it. BC United’s critic for Solicitor General, a former government SG and ex-cop, is Mike Morris. He’s implicated in the Prince George RCMP cover-up.

At any rate, no one in his party, the NDP or the Greens has ever taken a stand on police accountability. Again, that’s seen consistently in the all-party legislative committees that supposedly address police issues.

Nor will the SJW phonies at the BCCLA and Pivot speak out. B.C.’s clueless journalists would just love Farnworth’s scheme.

So would Tom Stamatakis.

The cop status quo matters
B.C. stands ready to manipulate identity politics
to support OPCC corruption
Read more about B.C.’s Independent Investigations Office
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