A Toronto police officer who was charged with insubordination and neglect of duty in connection with the 2016 arrest of serial killer Bruce McArthur has been found not guilty.
“After analyzing and weighing all the evidence, considering the submissions of both counsel and reviewing the legal authorities, I am not satisfied on clear and convincing evidence that the allegations as set out in the notice of hearing have been proven,” retired Peel Regional Police Supt. Dave Andrews said in a Toronto police tribunal decision document released on Monday.
Sgt. Paul Gauthier was initially charged in relation to his handling of a complaint by a man who alleged McArthur tried to strangle him.
A hearing notice released in 2019 alleged Gauthier did not record a video statement from the complainant or photograph his injuries within 72 hours, which is a requirement of the Toronto Police Service’s policy on domestic violence investigations.
McArthur pleaded guilty earlier in 2019 to eight counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of men with ties to Toronto’s Church-Wellesley neighbourhood. He was arrested in January 2018 and an internal probe related to the case began shortly afterward.
In Andrews’ decision, he said it appeared there was a “disconnect” involving domestic violence-related policies and how those are interpreted by some in the service.
“Front-line investigators need to engage in the exercise of discretion, but where offences involve vulnerable victims and impact public safety (i.e. intimate partner and sexual violence) the direction provided by the policy must be unambiguous,” he wrote.
“The policy must not only be clear and cogent, but the policy must be continually reiterated and reinforced so that its requisite application is understood throughout the organization. Otherwise, as here, ambiguity undermines the important objectives that the policy is designed to serve.”
Andrews went on to say the investigation was not “perfect,” saying he would have “preferred further steps to be taken.”
“This case is about adherence to policy, not about perfection. For the reason set out in my analysis, I cannot find that any police officer had a mandatory obligation according to the terminology in the procedures (and) this includes Sgt. Gauthier,” he wrote.
Lawrence Gridin, Gauthier’s lawyer, told Global News in a brief statement that they are “pleased that this is finally at an end and that officer Gauthier has been vindicated.”
— with files from The Canadian Press