Disciplinary listening to for Guelph officer nears finish, greater than 5 years since assault befell
It’s been five-and-a-half years since Guelph police Const. Corey McArthur assaulted a handcuffed teen, four years since he was sentenced by the courts, and more than two years since his professional disciplinary hearing began.
All that’s left now is for both parties to make final submissions in June (or July), and for former York police Deputy Chief Terrance Kelly, who has presided over the disciplinary hearing, to decide if McArthur can continue as an officer.
McArthur pleaded guilty to discreditable conduct at the start of the hearing, but defence attorney Joseph Markson has argued that he should be allowed to return to work. Markson has relied on testimony from Dr. Jonathan Rootenberg, who assessed McArthur after the 2016 assault and supports his return to front-line duties.
The hearing was thought to have finished hearing evidenced in mid-2021, however prosecutor David Migicovsky filed a motion to reopen in August of that year, after learning of comments made by a judge during a trial where McArthur was the arresting officer in a 2012 incident. After that trial ended in January 2014 an assault charge was filed against the constable, but later withdrawn.
The disciplinary hearing sat, maybe for the last time, Wednesday (May 25). During the nearly three-hour proceeding, Rootenberg again took the stand, where Migicovsky peppered him with questions that attacked the validity of his assessment on McArthur’s return to work.
One of the points the defence has relied on throughout the hearing is that McArthur’s behaviour is a result from PTSD he began experiencing after the death of fellow officer Jennifer Kovach in 2013.
Regarding the 2012 incident, Justice G.F. Hearn said that McArthur was “apparently an aggressive police officer,” and noted that the evidence McArthur gave was “concerning,” and “extremely self-serving,” among other critiques. Migicovsky tried to establish that the 2012 incident proceeded when Rootenberg said McArthur developed PTSD. Rootenberg tried to qualify his response.
“Dr. Rootenberg, I’m going to go back to your words on page 20 of 23 (of a previous report on McArthur’s fitness for duty). ‘The onset of PTSD started after the accidental death of his fellow police officer Jennifer Kovacs in 2013.’ Right? You said that and you confirm that. So my question to you is: the McMullen case, which happened in December 2012, was obviously prior to the onset of PTSD,” Migicovsky said.
“It was prior to the onset of him being diagnosed with PTSD, that’s correct,” Rootenberg responded.
“Well, no, Dr. Rootenberg … you didn’t say ‘diagnosis of PTSD.’ You said, quote, the onset of PTSD started after the accidental death of his fellow police officer Jennifer Kovacs in 2013,” Migicovsky said. “So my question to you, Dr. Rootenberg, is that the McMullen incident was prior to the onset of PTSD, because it was in 2012.”
Rootenberg: “I think I’ve already answered that. But again, I was trying to provide clarification. Not all diagnostic symptoms or categories fit into a neat box.”
Migicovksy continued questioning Rootenberg on his recommendation, noting that the doctors’ records indicate inconsistencies between what McArthur said during Rootenberg’s assessment, and what the judge said during the 2014 trial.
After an hour and a half of testimony, Markson objected to Migicovsky’s repeated questioning of the discrepancies.
“He’s compared and contrasted items and decisions that Dr. Rootenberg has thoroughly examined and factored into his risk assessments. Pointing them out to you using Dr. Rootenberg as a microphone is the place of submissions at the end,” Markson said. “This has been a waste of an hour and a half … Ask him whether or not that changes his opinion. Ask him something relevant to whether or not his opinion stands …”
Rootenberg filed an updated report in March 2022 where he stood by his initial assessment. He said as much when questioned by Markson earlier in the hearing.
“That’s from a psychological standpoint. Based on his current symptoms, the fact that he’s improved significantly, he’s not manifesting acute PTSD or even chronic PTSD symptoms currently, and he’s dealt with anger management issues. He’s dealt with stress in a more effective way. I do stand by that proposed outline if he were reinstated.”
Final submissions are expected to take place in June or July.