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VPD officer says 'I am truly sorry' to Myles Gray's family at coroner's inquest

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A Vancouver police officer broke down crying on the stand at the Coroner's Inquest into the death of Myles Gray -- and ended his testimony with a tearful apology to Gray's mother and father.

Margie Gray, Myles Gray's mom, said it was the first time in eight years she had seen any emotion from the officers involved in her son's August 2015 death.

Multiple 911 callers had reported a threatening man acting erratically that day.

Const. Hardeep Sahota, the first officer to respond, testified last week that Gray was threatening and aggressive with her, so she called for backup officers.

Const. John Gravengard, who testified Monday, was one of several officers who answered that call.

Before he arrived in the residential yard where Gray died, several of his colleagues had been brawling with Gray and attempting to place him in handcuffs for a few minutes.

In testimony last week, the inquest heard Gray knocked one officer out with a punch to the face.

Several officers have testified to repeatedly kicking, punching and striking Gray with their batons.

"I expect that by the time police finish talking about their interactions with Myles, there will still be a considerable gap between what they acknowledge was done and what you will hear by way of medical evidence," Ian Donaldson, the Gray family lawyer, said outside of court.

Gravengard testified that by the time he got to the yard, Gray was restrained by a pair of handcuffs and also had a device called a hobble around his legs binding his ankles together -- but he still believed Gray could potentially hurt someone even while restrained.

"I've never seen anyone that strong before," Gravengard told the inquest. "Superhuman strength."

He said that in order to help restrain Gray, he placed one knee on the back of Gray's thigh and his other knee on Gray's calf as the restrained man continued to struggle.

Gravengard testified he and three other officers held Gray down for approximately four to seven minutes -- until Gray went limp and stopped breathing.

"If there was any way that he could get loose, even if he was in handcuffs, and somehow jumped to his feet, even with the hobble, he could still do drop kicks and potentially hurt someone," Gravengard said from the witness stand.

Margie Gray was incredulous about that piece of testimony.

"If somebody could get up and drop kick somebody while they're hobbled and handcuffed?" she scoffed outside the inquest. "I don't know what fantasy land they're living in."

Gray would never regain consciousness and died there in the yard.

Gravengard became emotional and cried more than once during his testimony -- and just as the coroner was about to excuse him from the stand, he asked if he could say one more thing.

He then turned and looked directly at Margie Gray and Mark Gray, Myles Gray's father, as they sat in the front row of the gallery.

“I know it’s a difficult time for everyone and I am truly sorry for your son’s loss. I am a father too and I know it’s not the easiest thing to go through," Gravengard told them as he cried.

Outside, Margie Gray said the apology, seven and a half years after her son's death, had caught her off-guard.

"That is the first time I saw a glimpse of emotion. And it was nice to get an apology from someone within the VPD," she said. "I saw compassion come from somebody. I saw an emotion. I have not seen an emotion in eight years from anyone."

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