Police officer who released serial killer Bruce McArthur in 2016 cleared of disciplinary charges

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Sgt. Paul Gauthier, seen here in a photograph taken from video from 2010, has been found not guilty of two disciplinary charges, stemming from the arrest, questioning and release of serial killer Bruce McArthur in 2016. (CBC - image credit)
Sgt. Paul Gauthier, seen here in a photograph taken from video from 2010, has been found not guilty of two disciplinary charges, stemming from the arrest, questioning and release of serial killer Bruce McArthur in 2016. (CBC - image credit)

A Toronto police officer involved in a June 2016 arrest, questioning and release of serial killer Bruce McArthur in connection with an assault has been found not guilty of two disciplinary charges.

Sgt. Paul Gauthier was charged with insubordination and neglect of duty under the Police Services Act, stemming from his handling of a complaint by a man who alleged McArthur tried to strangle him during a sexual encounter.

After he was released in 2016, McArthur would go on to kill at least two of his eight known victims.

Gauthier pleaded not guilty to the disciplinary charges in November 2019. A hearing was held in May 2021 and, in a decision released Monday, a Toronto police disciplinary tribunal found him not guilty of both charges.

"After analyzing and weighing all the evidence … I am not satisfied on clear and convincing evidence that the allegations, as set out in the Notice of Hearing have been proven," retired superintendent Dave Andrews wrote in the decision.

According to a statement of particulars, Gauthier allegedly did not record a video statement from the complainant and allegedly did not photograph his injuries within 72 hours — two steps required by the Toronto Police Service's procedure on domestic violence investigations.

"I will not pretend that this investigation was perfect. It was not," Andrews wrote in the decision.

"While I would have preferred further steps to be taken, nothing has been presented to demonstrate, to any degree of certainty, that had those steps been taken, Sergeant Gauthier could have formed reasonable grounds," to lay charges against McArthur, he wrote.

Pam Davies/CBC
Pam Davies/CBC

On June 20, 2016, a man told police that he met McArthur in a vehicle in a parking lot in Toronto's north end, near Bathurst Street and Finch Avenue West. The man told police that he and McArthur were "casual intimate partners."

"During this time the male under arrest put his hands around the victim's throat and started to choke him. After a brief struggle the victim broke free, left the vehicle and contacted police. The victim advised he had a sore throat and trouble swallowing," the statement of particulars reads.

According to a statement of facts, the complainant provided a signed statement to a constable who went to the scene. McArthur turned himself in at a police station later and was transported to a different police division. Gauthier took over the investigation, conducted a videotaped interview with McArthur, then decided there were no reasonable grounds to charge him. McArthur was released.

Gauthier did not review or collect video from the complainant, did not take an audio or video statement from him, and did not arrange to have any photographs taken of him, according to the statement of facts.

Andrews notes that the victim told police that he had a video of a conversation he had with McArthur in the parking lot outside the victim's home. The constable made a note about the existence of the video.

"No one followed up on this video comment. In 2018, Toronto Police Homicide would reinterview the victim and learn the 'video' was a dash cam video which was mounted inside the victim's personal vehicle," Andrews wrote in the decision.

McArthur is serving a life sentence for the first-degree murder of eight men between 2010 and 2017. Most of the victims, as well as McArthur himself, had ties to Toronto's Gay Village.

His victims were Skandaraj Navaratnam, 40, Andrew Kinsman, 49, Selim Esen, 44, and Abdulbasir Faizi, 44, Kirushna Kumar Kanagaratnam, 37, Dean Lisowick, 47, Soroush Mahmudi, 50, and Majeed Kayhan, 58.

John Fraser/CBC
John Fraser/CBC

Police believe Lisowick was killed sometime between 2016 and 2017. Unlike most of McArthur's other victims, Lisowick was never reported missing.

Esen and Kinsman were killed after 2016.

Esen disappeared from the area of Yonge and Bloor streets over the Easter weekend in 2017. He was reported missing on April 30. Two months later, Kinsman vanished from Toronto's Cabbagetown neighbourhood one day after Toronto's annual Pride parade. He was reported missing three days later.

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