05/01/2013 07:40 EDT | Updated 07/01/2013 05:12 EDT

Ignoring Racist Slur Lands York Regional Police Officer In Trouble


An officer with the York Regional force is the subject of a controversial disciplinary hearing which his supporters say is nothing more than a "witch hunt."

The series of events began in the summer of 2011 when Const. Damien Muirhead and other officers were sent to investigate a bush party in Aurora, where a woman had been injured.

Muirhead, who is black, was yelled at and taunted by drunk men hurling racial slurs at him. Someone said the officer should be lynched.

Muirhead's lawyer, Courtney Betty, said Wednesday that his client "maintained his professionalism. He did not react in any way negatively."

One of the men in the group was Rheal Duguay who later filed a complaint against Muirhead.

Two days later Muirhead and Duguay met at a gas station.

Duguay told Muirhead he'd kick the officer's ass if he didn't have a badge and a gun.

Muirhead arrested Duguay and charged him with uttering a threat.

Duguay was discharged on condition he take an anger management class.

But Muirhead found himself facing a disciplinary hearing for not investigating the racial taunts during the original bush party incident.

"The whole thing doesn't make any sense," said Muirhead's brother Cecil. "It seems like witch hunt to me."

Muirhead is accused of insubordination, discreditable conduct and neglect of duty.

The prosecutor said Muirhead wrongly labelled Duguay's comments as racist in his notes.

"He associated those comments, made by someone else, with the public complainant. There was not basis to make that connection," said prosecutor Jason Fraser.

But in evidence presented Wednesday the hearing was told that in one year working in York Region Muirhead has been called the n-word twice. The lynching comment at the bush party was just one more attack.

The hearing continues Thursday when Muirhead will testify.