Winding down now with formal retirement on Thursday, already deferred from the end of 2018 because, well, there were still promises to keep and cases to be solved.
Tying up the loose ends on several murders.
Two weeks ago, he arrested two young men on first-degree murder for a March 2017 killing, 21-year-old Dylan Greenaway gunned down behind a Scarborough high school. One of the accused allegedly had a loaded semi-automatic pistol on him.
Oliver Martin and Dylan Ellis were killed in June of 2008 as they sat in a Range Rover at Richmond St. and Walnut Ave. after watching a basketball game at a friend’s home when a gunman approached and opened fire. No suspect was ever identified. That one continues to hurt, Giroux deeply moved by public pleas the victims’ families made for information leading to an arrest.
He drives by the scene almost every day, on his way to the cop-shop. “I can never not look,” Giroux told the Star a few days ago. “I just sit there and wonder if there was something I missed.
“I never found out what the motive was. A lot of folks live a lifestyle that brings them into harm’s way. But these young men were living an impeccable lifestyle and would have gone on to make big contributions to society.”
Giroux told the family he thought the murders were possibly a case of mistaken identity. What bothers him, though, is that he had a gunshot residue expert measure for distance. “The shooter was close (to the driver), face to face. If he was that close, he’d realize that’s not the person who I’m looking for. And then he repositions at the front of the vehicle and fires through the glass and kills the passenger.”
In the back seat was Martin’s girlfriend. “One of the worst 911 calls I’ve ever heard, screaming in the dark, hair on the back of your neck stuff. I don’t think the shooter knew she was there or she’d likely be dead too.”
There was also the double murder at a North York travel agency. A tourist, visiting from St. Lucia, had dropped by to make a payment while her boyfriend circled the block. But she stumbled into a knifepoint robbery in progress. Both the woman and employee were stabbed to death.
“That never got any traction,” he says, still puzzled.
A father killed as he was putting his young son to bed on Halloween, hit by a bullet never meant for him. “That was an individual with a new gun experimenting,” Giroux speculates. “The bullet went right through the branches of a tree, through the side of the home and struck him right in the chest.”
The solved cases — such as the apparently unrelated murders of two Eritrean women, one of them stabbed to death as she walked home from her hotel job early on a rainy October morning in 2012, the other whose dismembered body was found in a west end park six months later, the killings linked by DNA retrieved from the suspect’s toothbrush — don’t really compensate for the unsolved.
And the ones who got away on technicalities or head-scratching jury acquittals.
Last May, Havard McKenzie was cleared of second-degree murder in a brazen shooting at a packed Chinatown restaurant. McKenzie was alleged to be “Shooter No. 2,” Giroux using a laser pointer to show court what had led to the killing of Tariq Mohammed.
“His handprint on the door,” Giroux recalls. “On video, (the killer is) seen with the gun in his hand. There was only one location in the restaurant where the shooting of the victim could be recorded and that’s where the deceased lands. So the guns of the two offenders come over the counter and they fire at him on the floor, all of it on video.”
On the stand, McKenzie testified it wasn’t him on the video.
“(McKenzie) gets up and says, I was there two weeks ago with my mom and that’s when I must have left (the handprint) there. And (the jury) believed it.
“So I lost the Garden Restaurant shooting. That really bothered me.”
As it turned out, two other men originally charged with first-degree in connection with the Garden shooting — charges later dropped — were later murdered themselves in separate shootings.
Evidentiary DNA was in its infancy when Giroux began investigating murders. No national database, no CSI-style forensic knowledge, no blanket closed circuit TV cameras. Giroux would schlep around the province, seeking assistance to enhance old Beta tapes, even turned to the RCMP. Last weekend he got a guilty result in a 2016 murder at an Ultramar gas station that had “casino-grade recording equipment.”
In days of yore, homicide cops worked in two-partner complements. “I’m surprised anybody ever went to jail, just because of the fact that it was overwhelming,” Giroux laughs. “Used to be, knock-knock on doors, ‘Hey did you see anything?’” Now detective-sergeants case-manage with a crew of at least four investigators, tapping more as required.
In recent months, with the end in sight, Giroux has been able to focus more intently on open cases, write more search warrants, get more production orders, authorize more surveillance. He’s had time to go back, try harder.
“A lot of it had to do with the sheer volume of murders we had last year. The calls just kept coming around so rapidly. Unless it’s obvious on the front end, all cases were like 60 to 70 per cent done and then you get another call — you’re up again. Then you’re resorting that one 60 to 70 per cent. We were going about two weeks between calls. So unless it’s really obvious — the smoking gun — you had to kind of park it and move on to the next.”
Giroux, old-school, aged 58, has never been one to get palsy with defence lawyers during trials. “I don’t want to be buddies with defence lawyers. I like the adversarial system. If I’m on the stand and you want to take me on, go ahead, but if I get the opportunity as a result of the questions you ask me, I’m going to take it.”
Doesn’t have much empathy with the accused and convicted either. “I’m a black and white guy. I know some of them haven’t had the breaks that I’ve had, some of them haven’t had good parenting. But I’ve always seen our primary role as protecting the public so I don’t connect with them.”
Straight ahead is his daughter’s beach wedding in Costa Rica, a possible home relocation, leisure time to spend with his wife of 33 years, Karen, knowing there won’t be sudden call-outs from dinner or a night at the theatre. His son, a film producer, has urged dad to consider writing crime scripts. “I don’t envision it.” What Giroux definitely won’t be doing is pimping out as an ex-cop media consultant.
“I’ve always been concerned about offering opinions that can school people on what we do. So I’m not going to be participating in that. I was disappointed about former colleagues who go on the news and say, they’re going to be tapping your phone, getting DNA, following you.”
And he’s still not entirely done. There are cases before the courts where he might have to testify, voir-dires and statements that remain in his remit.
“I’m going to miss the work. But I promised my wife I won’t be one of those old retired cops who’s always calling in to ask, what have you got, any leads?
“It’s been a really good run for me. Not many can say that. It’s been awesome.”
Rosie DiManno is a columnist based in Toronto covering sports and current affairs. Follow her on Twitter: @rdimanno