A Toronto police officer facing disciplinary charges related to a 2016 arrest of serial killer Bruce McArthur is accused of breaching the force’s policy on how to handle reports of domestic violence.
Sgt. Paul Gauthier’s lawyer says the disciplinary charges against his client relate to allegations that while he obtained a statement from a man complaining about McArthur, he did not record it on video as the policy requires.
Lawrence Gridin says it’s also alleged Gauthier failed to take photos of the man’s injuries within 72 hours, which is another requirement. He says the injuries were documented, however.
“Gauthier denies that he did anything wrong,” Gridin said in a statement Wednesday. “In fact … investigators relied on the work from Gauthier’s 2016 investigation to help them identify McArthur as a serial killer.”
Gauthier is charged with insubordination and neglect of duty, but the allegations against him had not previously been released because the officer was not present for what was meant to be his first appearance before the police tribunal on Tuesday.
Gridin has said he is confident the evidence will show his client did not hamper the investigation into McArthur’s crimes.
The lawyer has also argued the case should be heard by a judge rather than a high-ranking officer appointed by Chief Mark Saunders. But the prosecution and the superintendent who oversaw Tuesday’s hearing said it was too early in the process to make submissions on that issue.
McArthur pleaded guilty last week to eight counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of men with ties to Toronto’s gay village.
He was arrested in January 2018 and shortly afterwards, the force’s professional standards unit launched an internal investigation related to the case.
The review was sparked when the detective leading the probe said he came across some “concerning” information while reviewing two previous investigations into five missing men from the gay village.
McArthur had been interviewed by police a few years ago in a separate, unrelated incident.
McArthur’s sentencing hearing was told that a man called 911 and gave a statement to police in June 2016 after escaping from McArthur’s van.
An agreed statement of fact read in court said the two knew each other and had agreed to meet in the van. When the man arrived, he found the back seat was gone and the floor of the van was covered with a plastic sheet and a fur coat.
Court heard McArthur told the man to lie down on the coat and then grabbed his wrist “with an angry look on his face.” He then grabbed the man’s throat and started strangling him, court heard.
The man tried pleading with McArthur and eventually managed to roll free and escape, court heard. “He was unable to swallow properly again for a week,” the statement said.
After the man reported the attack, McArthur was arrested and gave an exculpatory statement to police, it said.
“An officer released McArthur without charges, believing his statement to be credible,” court heard.
Police later found photographs of the man on McArthur’s electronic devices, court heard. In some, he is wearing a fur coat that appears identical to the one with which McArthur posed the men he killed, the statement said.
Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press