Toronto officer facing misconduct charges over 2016 McArthur choking arrest asks for independent judge


A Toronto police officer facing professional misconduct charges in connection to the investigation into serial killer Bruce McArthur is requesting an independent judge hear the case.

In a brief hearing Tuesday morning at Toronto police headquarters, the disciplinary tribunal heard the case of Sgt. Paul Gauthier, who is charged with neglect of duty and insubordination in connection to the McArthur investigation.

Gauthier’s charge stems from a 2016 encounter between the serial killer and Toronto police that came after a man reported McArthur had attempted to strangle him during a sexual encounter. McArthur was arrested but let go with no charges.

Gauthier, a former member of the force’s sex crime unit, was not present at the tribunal. He was represented by Toronto lawyer Lawrence Gridin, who formally requested an independent adjudicator.

“You have no independence from the chief of police,” Gridin told the hearing officer, Toronto police Insp. Richard Hegedus.

Gridin had begun discussing how, in December 2017, police chief Mark Saunders held a press conference denying the existence of a serial killer at work in Toronto’s Gay Village.

“We now know, because this matter’s up in court, and there’s been an agreed statement of facts files, details have come out… that the information at the press conference was not correct.”

But Gridin was interrupted by Toronto police prosecutor Alexandra Ciobotaru, who said Gridin’s comments were not what she was expecting and that initial comments should only pertain to the behaviour of the officer in question.

Gridin replied that he was providing the information to show justification for an independent adjudicator, not a Toronto police hearing officer chosen by Saunders.

Outside the tribunal, the lawyer told reporters that he was confident the evidence will show that the work done by Gauthier contributed to the identification of McArthur as a serial killer, rather than detracted from it.

He stressed that the voices of people giving their victim impact statements as part of McArthur’s sentencing hearings should be heard today, “not mine.”

Gauthier’s matter was scheduled to be heard again later this month.

McArthur went on to kill two other men after the 2016 incident: Selim Esen and Andrew Kinsman, both murdered in 2017.

New details about the incident were revealed in Ontario Superior Court Monday during McArthur’s ongoing sentencing hearing. The killer had earlier pleaded guilty to eight counts of first-degree murder.

According to a summary of the facts read out in court, the encounter occurred on June 20, 2016, when a victim reported McArthur showed up at his place of work and asked him to meet that evening in his van in a parking lot.

The man did so and reported finding McArthur had removed the seat behind the driver’s seat so that there was room to lie down, revealing a plastic sheet on the floor of the van and a fur coat on top of that.

McArthur asked the victim to lie on the coat and instructed him to put an arm behind his back. Then, “with a look of determination on his face,” he “grabbed the victim’s throat and started strangling him,” Crown lawyer Michael Cantlon said in court Monday.

“What do you want from me,” the victim asked, according to the statement of facts. McArthur did not respond and “continued squeezing the larynx” of the victim, who was unable to swallow properly for a week, Cantlon said.

The victim managed to roll away and escaped the van. He later called 911.

McArthur went to the police station on his own and was arrested, but gave an exculpatory statement, court heard.

“An officer released Mr. McArthur without charges, believing his statement to be credible,” Cantlon said.

In a statement last week, Gauthier’s lawyer said the decision not to charge McArthur for the 2016 incident “was made in conjunction” with Gauthier’s supervisor “and based on the information available at the time.”

“Gauthier conducted a proper investigation and fully documented the arrest of McArthur so that the information was available to all other investigators,” said lawyer Lawrence Gridin.

“McArthur’s monstrous nature was difficult to uncover because he led a life of extreme deception, not because of anything to do with the 2016 arrest … Gauthier has great sympathy for the victims and the community.”

According to police tribunal documents, Gauthier was previously charged with two counts of professional misconduct while he was with the sex crimes unit.

Those charges, which are unrelated to the McArthur case, were ultimately dropped and the matter was dealt with internally.

The police document that outlined the earlier allegations against Gauthier stated that, beginning in July 2011, Gauthier was working with the sex crimes unit when he was investigating a case where he had reasonable and probable grounds to arrest the suspect. Specifically, Gauthier had DNA evidence identifying the alleged perpetrator through a positive link to an offender in the National DNA databank.

But the suspect was never arrested. Five years later, Peel Regional Police arrested the same man for unrelated sexual offences. During the Peel police investigation, it was determined that “the information originally received in 2011, by (Gauthier), was never acted on,” according to police documents.

According to the police document, Gauthier “failed to ensure that a thorough investigation was conducted”; “failed to ensure” the DNA link was acted upon; and “failed to ensure” that the measures were in place for the apprehension of the suspect.

“In so doing, you committed misconduct, in that you did, without lawful excuse, neglect or omit to promptly and diligently perform a duty, as a member of the police force of which you are a member.”

McArthur pleaded guilty earlier this week to eight counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Kinsman, Esen, Lisowick, Majeed Kayhan, Soroush Mahmudi, Skandaraj (Skanda) Navaratnam, Abdulbasir Faizi and Kirushnakumar Kanagaratnam.

With Star files

Wendy Gillis is a Toronto-based reporter covering crime and policing. Reach her by email at or follow her on Twitter: @wendygillis


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Police carding should be banned in Ontario, independent review says


Random street checks, or carding, should be banned as there is little evidence to show the practice is useful in reducing crime while it disproportionately affects racialized individuals, according to the results of an independent review released Monday.

The report was prepared by Court of Appeal Justice Michael Tulloch, who was tapped by the previous Liberal provincial government in 2017 to conduct a review of its new regulation on carding — the stopping and documenting of citizens not suspected of a crime.

“There is little to no evidence that a random, unfocused collection of identifying information has benefits that outweigh the social cost of the practice,” Court of Appeal Justice Michael Tulloch, seen here in an April 6, 2017 file photo, said in a report released Monday.
“There is little to no evidence that a random, unfocused collection of identifying information has benefits that outweigh the social cost of the practice,” Court of Appeal Justice Michael Tulloch, seen here in an April 6, 2017 file photo, said in a report released Monday.  (Rene Johnston/Toronto Star)

The regulation was aimed at prohibiting arbitrary stops — which Tulloch recommends should be explicitly stated in the regulation — and outlined the scenarios in which officers could stop an individual and request their information. The regulation also included new rules to govern those interactions, including a requirement that the officer tell the person they don’t have to provide identifying information.

Aside from reviewing the regulation, Tulloch also focused on whether purely random stops — traditionally known as carding — to gather information should ever be allowed. He found that it should not, while also noting that some critics have blamed recent spikes in gun violence on the new regulation and the restrictions placed on carding — a claim he said was not supported by the facts.

Many other jurisdictions, Tulloch said, have not reported an increase in criminal activity following a drop in carding practices. “There is little to no evidence that a random, unfocused collection of identifying information has benefits that outweigh the social cost of the practice,” he said.

“The data indicates that the better use of police resources is a more focused approach,” Tulloch wrote in his report.

“A widespread program of random street checks involves considerable time and effort for a police service, with little to no verifiable results on the level of crime or even arrests,” he said.

“Given the social cost involved with a practice that has not definitively been shown to widely reduce or solve crime, it is recommended that the practice of randomly stopping individuals to gather their identifying information for the creation of a databasae for intelligence purposes be discontinued in those remaining jurisdictions that still employ the practice.”

The review followed a number of public consultations across the province. Sylvia Jones, the minister of community safety and correctional services, said in a statement the government will review Tulloch’s recommendations.

“Our government has been very clear: we will fix the police legislation the Liberals broke. We are committed to developing legislation that works for our police and for the people of Ontario. Our new police legislation will reflect a simple principle: racism and discrimination have no place in policing. Justice Tulloch’s report will inform our work as we fix Ontario’s policing legislation,” she said.

“Public safety is, and always will be, a top priority for this government. You can count on us to keep our communities safe, stand up for victims, and hold criminals accountable for their actions. We will not let you down.”

With files from Wendy Gillis

Jacques Gallant is a Toronto-based reporter covering legal affairs. Follow him on Twitter: @JacquesGallant


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Liberal government hammered over process to create independent debate commission


A Liberal decision to set up a commission to organize federal leaders’ debates in the 2019 election without consulting other parties is an « abysmal embarrassment, » NDP MP David Christopherson complained Tuesday.

Former governor general David Johnston, who is heading the commission, was explaining his intentions to a House of Commons committee. Last week, Democratic Institutions Minister Karina Gould announced that Johnston’s commission would organize two leaders’ debates for the next election, one in each official language.

There should have been unanimity on the choice of the commissioner before the announcement, Christopherson said, suggesting it was « insulting » for the government to disregard work and suggestions put forward by the parliamentary committee on something so basic to the democratic process.

« I would strongly recommend to get this fixed because — I don’t need a headline or a quote or a clip because I’m not running again. What I want is to fix our debates and to make our democracy as strong as possible, » he said.

Christopherson also apologized to Johnston.

« I want to end, sir, by saying again the respect that I have for you and if you end up being our commissioner, I would be thrilled, » he said.

Conservative democratic institutions critic Stephanie Kusie asked Johnston whether he’s been given an itemized budget by the government, which has earmarked $5.5 million for the commission’s work.

« I have not, » Johnston said. « The word ‘independent’ in the mandate is an important one, I think respected by the government, and I think will be comforting to myself and my colleagues. »

The commission will consult Treasury Board guidelines for its spending will be prudent and reasonable, Johnston added.

Johnston’s commission is to report to Parliament following the 2019 debates with recommendations for a permanent commission.


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