As his friends grappled with what life path to pursue in high school, Gary Giroux took comfort that he had it already figured out.
After 40 years as a Toronto police officer, Detective Sergeant Giroux can thank that young man for his clear-eyed conviction to pursue policing as a career.
“I have been to a lot of retirement parties and you hear officers say they are not going to miss the work, but they will miss the people,” said the 22-year Homicide veteran, well known for his clear-eyed focus on every case he was assigned. “I will miss the work. The work was very satisfying for me and I will miss it as well.”
Two weeks out of high school, Giroux joined the Service as a cadet in the Summons Bureau in July 1979. After 18 months, he went to the Ontario Police College and then made his start as a uniformed officer in 14 Division’s investigative office.
Promoted in 1990, he was transferred to 11 Division where he was the uniformed patrol Sergeant for 19 months. Late in 1991, he joined the Division’s investigative office and hasn’t worn the uniform in his work since, taking on his dream job with the Homicide Squad in 1997.
“I was always really passionate about community safety,” he said. “I really thought that in Homicide, that was a way to participate in that practice by incarcerating people I knew were going to go and victimize people.”
After over two decades in Homicide, a total unheard of in Toronto policing, Giroux has been involved in many high-profile cases.
In July 2000, Stuart Cameron, a self-employed man with a wife and three children, entered a North York basement apartment and attacked two sisters with a knife. Tina Wu, 18, succumbed to her injuries and her younger sister was permanently disfigured. Cameron was convicted of second-degree murder and other charges and sentenced to life in prison with no parole eligibility for 22 years.
Eleven-year-old Ephraim Brown was caught in the crossfire of a shootout while attending a birthday party in a North York housing complex in July 2007. Akiel Eubank and Gregory Sappleton were charged with second-degree murder, but a jury found them not guilty.
Giroux was the lead investigator in the trial of Adonay Zekarias who was found guilty of the 2012 murder of hotel maid Nighisti Semret.
Crown attorney Mary Humphrey praised Giroux and other officers for their dogged work, compiling an overwhelming case.
Last year, Zekarias was found guilty of second-degree murder of his roommate, Rigat Ghirmay, whose dismembered remains were found in a duffel bag nearby Zekarias’ apartment in 2013. Three years later more remains were found.
But beyond his successes in closing cases there are still a few unsolved that he still revisits, searching for a lead that would lead to answers.
Just after midnight on June 13, 2008, Dylan Ellis and Oliver Martin were sitting in an SUV on Richmond St. near Bathurst St. when they were murdered in a hail of gunfire.
The double murder puzzled the city and no one has been identified as a suspect or there is nothing pointing to a motive for taking the lives of the two men in their mid 20s.
“This particular file is one that I have spent a lot of time on trying to figure out who is responsible for their deaths,” said Giroux. “Those were two young men who had impeccable families and were going to go on to make big contributions in the community. They weren’t living high-risk lives and it still bothers me that an arrest hasn’t been made.”
In 2006, Giroux was part of an investigative team that included then D/Sgt. Stacy Gallant and S/Sgt. Joel Kulmatycki, who were honoured with the William Bishop Award.
A year earlier, two legs were recovered at the Bermondsey garbage transfer station and it was determined the trash came from the south Parkdale area. The next day, a female torso was found in a busy public laneway in the south west area of Parkdale and a post-mortem confirmed the body parts were from the same person.
Just over a month later, officers got a big break in the case when a member of the public reported that a common-in-law husband couldn’t give a good reason for his wife’s prolonged absence.
Giroux and Kulmatycki interviewed the suspect and found the rest of 46-year-old Rose McGroarty’s remains.
Her common-in-law husband was charged with second-degree murder.
Giroux was Gallant’s first partner when he joined the Homicide Unit in 2005.
“I worked 14 cases with him and that set the course for my time in the unit,” said Gallant. “Gary is methodical, detail-oriented, calm and cool in every situation. Anyone who had the privilege of working with him no doubt benefitted in learning from the best.”
Giroux was tapped by the Service’s Command to lead two complex and sensitive projects.
In 2010, he was appointed the G-20 investigative team operational case manager.
The Toronto G-20 Summit that year became a lightning rod for mass protests and demonstrations, resulting in damage to police vehicles and public and private property. Thugs burned police cars and smashed store and bank windows
The team was charged with the responsibility of identifying and prosecuting those who committed the crimes. . Many of the criminals, including Americans, were arrested and charged.
Giroux was also the lead investigator on Project Brazen 2 – a probe that had officers surveilling late Mayor Rob Ford for months, and resulted in charges laid against Alessandro Lisi, who was a friend of the Mayor.
“On both cases, I had a tremendous staff that was very self-motivated,” said Giroux, who was the recipient of the Ontario Homicide Investigators Award in 2017. “We did a really honest, ethical and professional investigation and I am proud of the teams that I had and the work we did.”
He has set a standard of excellence when it comes to homicide investigations, how he presents his cases and how he gathers evidence. Gary is second to none
Chief Mark Saunders worked with Giroux at 11 Division and in Homicide.
“It is very easy for me to say that Gary is by far the best homicide investigator in Canada,” he said. “I say that because of his tremendous experience and how he presents his cases. From numerous accounts from Crown Attorneys and Superior Court Justices, he is the benchmark. He has set a standard of excellence when it comes to homicide investigations, how he presents his cases and how he gathers evidence. Gary is second to none. We have been very fortunate that we have had him in Toronto teaching, training and nurturing future amazing investigators.”
Giroux will spend some quality time with his family over the next few months while plotting his next move.
“You can’t commit to this kind of work without a stable and supportive family,” he said. “That’s something I tell any young officer considering this line of work. I also tell them they have to be professional, respectful and hardworking.”