A letter circulating within the Toronto Police Service has been leaked to Global News by a police source, written by Sergeant Paul Gauthier, who is facing professional misconduct charges over an encounter with Bruce McArthur in 2016, in which he says he is dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder and depression after becoming a “scapegoat” for the service.
“Gauthier maintains his innocence and is obviously frustrated with how he’s been portrayed. This document was a private communication to his friends expressing his frustration,” said Gauthier’s lawyer Lawrence Gridin.
Gauthier did not appear in person before the police tribunal Tuesday, but his lawyer addressed the media outside police headquarters noting evidence will show his client’s work “contributed to the identification of McArthur as a serial killer” and did not detract from the investigation.
Gauthier is facing charges of insubordination and neglect of duty under the Police Services Act.
Toronto Police Association President Mike McCormack said he is very concerned about the “appearance” of these charges.
“We’re going to vigorously defend these charges and we are seeking to have an outside judge hear these allegations and we’re very concerned about the optics around this,” he said.
“The pressure that he’s under is absolutely incredible and yes it is having an impact on him.”
The incident that led to the charges is detailed in an agreed statement of facts released in court this week, during serial killer McArthur’s sentencing hearing.
“On June 20, 2016, Mr. McArthur showed up, at the workplace of a man he had known for years. Mr. McArthur asked the victim to meet in his van in a parking lot later that evening… The floor of the van had a plastic sheet on it, and on top of that was a fur coat, lying open so that the lining was exposed.”
VIDEO: Toronto cop involved in 2016 arrest, release of Bruce McArthur wants case heard by judge
The agreed statement of facts goes on to detail the incident which led to McArthur grabbing “the victim’s throat and started strangling him.”
It left the victim “unable to swallow properly again for a week.”
He managed to escape McArthur, called 911 and gave a statement to police.
McArthur attended a police station on his own, was arrested, gave a statement and then, as the agreed statement of facts indicates, “an officer released Mr. McArthur without charges, believing his statement to be credible.”
Two more gay men, Selim Esen and Andrew Kinsman, were murdered by Bruce McArthur in the year following that incident.
In the letter written by Gauthier and obtained by Global News, the evening McArthur presented himself at the police station is described in detail.
“June 20th 2016 was a busy night in the CIB. When McArthur came in under arrest, I volunteered to take this investigation as I had been the least busy of the team. I put my other duties aside and began working on it,” Gauthier wrote.
“A proper investigation was completed,” he added.
Gauthier notes the complainant’s statement was taken “ver batum” and signed by him in the officer’s memo book.
“The statement was of good quality and I was satisfied with it. The officer who took the statement had been an accredited Domestic Violence investigator,” the letter stated.
There is no mention of a videotaped statement from the victim, which police policy requires.
In response to that, Gauthier’s lawyer tells Global News, “It is alleged that Sgt. Gauthier failed to comply with the Toronto Police Service’s internal domestic violence policy. The charges specify that although he obtained a statement from the victim, Gauthier failed to video record it. Secondly, although the victim’s injury was documented, Gauthier failed to have photos taken 72 hours after the event as required by the policy.”
“Gauthier denies that he did anything wrong,” Gridin said.
But, “a cautioned, videotaped statement” was taken of McArthur, Gauthier claims in his letter.
“I brought the same officer into the interview with me who took the complaint’s statement, so she could help identify any possible inconsistencies,” Gauthier wrote.
“Based on years of investigative experience,” it was decided that there were no grounds to charge McArthur with an offence, he writes.
The investigation was brought to a supervisor, the on-duty staff sergeant, to review it with him. He then agreed and “authorized McArthur to be released.”
Gauthier claims he had “no idea there had even been a project with respect to missing men from the LGBT community downtown,” in reference to Project Houston, which was formed to investigate the disappearance of three men between 2010 and 2012.
But, in September 2017, Gauthier says he spoke with a Project Prism investigator and “nobody appeared to have any concerns with how I handled my investigation.”
Project Prism was launched by Toronto police in August 2017 to investigate the disappearances of Selim Esen and Andrew Kinsman.
The letter details the February 2018 news conference, during which Police Chief Mark Saunders indicated there was no evidence of a serial killer operating in the Village. A reference Gauthier’s lawyer made during a brief hearing at the tribunal Tuesday.
“The information at the press conference was not correct,” Gridin said.
Gridin is requesting an independent adjudicator to oversee the case, rather than a hearing officer chosen by Chief Mark Saunders.
Gauthier claims that a detective wrote a letter to Professional Standards calling his investigation of Bruce McArthur into question the day after Saunders “embarrassed himself in a news article in which he effectively blamed the community by suggesting McArthur would’ve been caught sooner had people come forward to the police.”
Saunders said in the Globe and Mail article on Feb. 27, 2018 that police “knew something was up” with regards to the disappearances of the missing men, but that they “did not have the evidence” to solve the case.
He went on to say that “if anyone knew before us, it’s people who knew him very, very well. And so that did not come out.”
The chief issued a statement following the criticism from the LGBTQ community.
“As a police service, we put resources into Project Houston – a dozen full time investigators did thousands of hours of work canvassing the community, posting flyers, issuing news releases, interviewing witnesses, and still those activities did not yield any results,” Saunders wrote.
“I talked at length about the challenges we face and our desire to work with the community to move forward and be better. I am releasing the interview in its entirety so you can hear for yourself.”
VIDEO: Lead detective in Bruce McArthur investigation files complaint against fellow officer
Gauthier said that while on his day off, he was called into the station on May 8, 2018 and was suspended from duty.
“I asked what the reason was… the response I got was ‘I don’t know’,” he wrote. The charges of professional misconduct came four months later.
Gauthier said that was past the six month window required to lay a Police Act charge.
“The Service then went to the Police Services Board and got special permission to lay charges against me. And here we are,” he wrote.
McCormack believes Gauthier’s investigation was thorough and complete and stands by the officer.
“There is a review that is ongoing and that’s why we though that that was appropriate to look at the McArthur investigation from a holistic systemic point of view and we’re very concerned that this has become a very public piece around Paul Gauthier and blaming him for anything that may have gone wrong,” McCormack said.
Gauthier’s letter concludes with a detailed description of how the past year has taken a toll on him “both personally and professionally.”
Beyond the “sleepless nights thinking about McArthur’s unspeakable crimes, his victims and their families,” he writes, “my employer has effectively set me up to be their fall guy for all this. Simply because they need a scapegoat.”
Based on his letter, he has been diagnosed with depression and PTSD and has been off work undergoing treatment.
Toronto Police Service spokesperson Meaghan Gray declined to comment on the issue.
“The matter involving Sgt. Gauthier followed a standard internal investigative process. It will now be considered before the tribunal,” she wrote in a statement.