A Toronto police officer who is facing disciplinary charges in connection with a 2016 arrest of serial killer Bruce McArthur wants his case heard by a judge.
Sgt. Paul Gauthier’s lawyer told a disciplinary tribunal the case must go before an independent adjudicator rather than a police superintendent assigned by Chief Mark Saunders.
Lawrence Gridin began to make submissions on the issue Tuesday but was told it was too early in the process.
Gauthier was scheduled to make his first appearance on insubordination and neglect of duty charges but was not present at the hearing, which was then adjourned to Feb. 26.
Neither police not Gridin would comment on the exact nature of the charges, which relate to Gauthier’s role in an incident in which McArthur was arrested but not charged.
Gridin said outside the hearing that the evidence will show his client “contributed” to the identification of McArthur as a serial killer and did not detract from the investigation.
McArthur, who pleaded guilty last week to eight counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of men with ties to Toronto’s gay village, had been interviewed by police a few years ago in a separate, unrelated incident.
The force’s professional standards unit launched an internal investigation related to the McArthur case in March 2018, two months after the self-employed landscaper was first charged with murder.
Det.-Sgt. Hank Idsinga, who led the investigation into McArthur, said that in the course of his work on the case he came across “concerning” information that triggered the internal probe.
He didn’t provide any further details at the time, but said he became aware of the information after reviewing two previous police investigations into five missing men from the city’s gay village.
In a statement last week, Gridin defended Gauthier’s actions in a 2016 incident in which McArthur was arrested but not charged and said his client has “great sympathy for the victims and the community.”
“The decision not to charge Bruce McArthur for the 2016 incident was made in conjunction with Det. Gauthier’s supervisor and based on the information available at the time,” Gridin said.
“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.”
Toronto police released a statement stating, “When Homicide Squad investigators working the Bruce McArthur case identified prior investigative concerns, they immediately contacted Professional Standards. As a result, an officer has been compelled to attend a tribunal in efforts to provide an explanation for his actions.”
On Monday, the court heard the gruesome details of McArthur’s “planned and deliberate” murders — including his “post-offence rituals” such as photography, staging the bodies and keeping items.
Following the reading of the detailed statement of facts, family members and friends of McArthur’s victims began to speak, including Patricia Kinsman, who began her statement saying “never in my wildest dreams did I envision (my brother’s) life ending in this way.”
McArthur’s sentencing is expected to last until Wednesday.