Watch: Anti-Gay Bias Enabled A Serial Killer to Roam Free According to An Investigation in Toronto

by Emell Adolphus

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Wednesday April 14, 2021
Originally published on April 14, 2021

Members of the Toronto Police Service excavate the back of a property in Toronto during an investigation in relation to alleged serial killer Bruce McArthur.
Members of the Toronto Police Service excavate the back of a property in Toronto during an investigation in relation to alleged serial killer Bruce McArthur.  (Source:Tijana Martin/The Canadian Press via AP)

Anti-gay discrimination by the Toronto Police Service left serial killer Bruce McArthur roaming free to kill again for seven years, according to an internal investigation by the Toronto Police Services Board released Tuesday morning.

As reported by the New York Times, the Toronto Police Service interviewed the killer several times on suspicion of committing murder but released him, which enabled him to kill a total of eight gay men of Middle Eastern or South Asian descent over a period of seven years.

According to the Toronto Police Service, their names and ages are as follow: Skandaraj Navaratnam, 40; Andrew Kinsman, 49; Selim Esen, 44; Abdulbasir Faizi, 44; Kirushna Kumar Kanagaratnam, 37; Dean Lisowick, 47; Soroush Mahmudi, 50; and Majeed Kayhan, 58.

In January 2019 McArthur, a former landscaper, stood accused of sexually assaulting, killing, and dismembering the men he met in Toronto's Gay Village district over seven years. He pleaded guilty to eight counts of first-degree murder and was then sentenced to life imprisonment with no eligibility for parole for twenty-five years.

The report, available in full PDF format here, was independently reviewed by retired Ontario Court of Appeal justice, Gloria Epstein. In the report's executive summary, she found multiple accounts of "systemic failure" the Toronto police force's investigation in to the murders.

"Some officers had misconceptions or stereotypical ideas about the LGBTQ2S+ communities. At times, their perceptions impeded their work," Epstein wrote in the report. "Investigators missed opportunities to use community expertise or resources — as well as expertise or lived experiences within the Toronto Police Service (the Service) itself — to learn more about those communities and what leads might be available. Investigators failed to appreciate — and attempt to address — barriers that prevented some witnesses from coming forward."

In all, Epstein makes 151 recommendations to improve upon the police force's investigation processes. Speaking to CBC News, the former judge said the process of reviewing the report has changed her life in a both "painful and wonderful" experience.

Watch her interview with CBC news below.

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