Lying in reports 'show-stopper' for suspended officer's career, deputy chief says

The deputy chief of the Fredericton Police Force says it would be difficult to find a place for an officer who falsified reports.

The arbitration hearing in the case of Const. Zach Coady restarted Monday. Coady, 28, previously admitted to saying he had contacted people when he hadn't and closing files without notifying complainants in five different cases. 

The seven-year officer said he still wants to be a cop, but the force is seeking his dismissal. Deputy chief Martin Gaudet said Coady coming back might not be possible.

"There are some errors in some professions that are show-stoppers and if you're a liar as a police officer … I believe that's a show-stopper," Gaudet told the arbitration hearing at the Wu Conference Centre on Monday.

The investigation into Coady's conduct, which began in September 2017, led the Crown to withdraw an impaired driving charge in a case for which Coady was the main officer. Gaudet said he couldn't send him into court knowing that he may have lied.

Catherine Harrop/CBC

While the deputy chief doesn't have the power to lay or drop charges, Gaudet said he tasked another officer to let the Crown prosecutor know that Coady was being investigated under the Police Act. After the Crown was told of the Police Act complaint, it dropped the charge.

Coady was suspended in the fall of 2017 after confessing to lying to his superiors about investigating cases and contacting complainants.

He was charged with discreditable conduct, neglect of duty and engaging in deceit. He denied the accusations in November 2018 but admitted to them in late March. 

Gaudet laid out the many demands of being a police officer, from collecting evidence to speaking to the public to providing testimony. Gaudet said almost every aspect of that role is now tainted by Coady's admission that he falsified reports.

"There will be a disclosure to the fact that he lied ... That touches every file that he could testify to," he said.

An audit of Coady's investigations found that six of 17 reports he wrote had false or inaccurate entries. In a statement of facts, Coady and the police force agreed that he falsified reports in five of the six investigations.

The sixth, pertaining to a stolen licence plate from Wood Motors Ford in Fredericton, is still in dispute.

Ongoing struggles

Coady's lawyer, T. J. Burke, said his behaviour could be a product of underlying and undiagnosed depression, anxiety and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Sgt. Shane Duffy, Coady's supervisor in 2017, said he noticed Coady was losing weight and looking weak. He also said the force has been chronically understaffed.

The last person to testify was Coady's father, Tony Coady, who retired from the Fredericton Police Force in 2015 after 30 years on the job. 

Jon Collicott/CBC

Even though he was already under oath, Tony Coady still put his hand on the Bible when describing his son's honesty.

"I never caught him ever in a lie," Tony Coady said.

Zach Coady wiped away tears as his father described his state in the year before he was suspended. Tony Coady said his son looked like he was starving, he was gaunt, probably weighed 125 pounds and had trouble exercising. The worst point was in October 2017, right after he got suspended.

Tony Coady said he didn't want to be the one to ask his son to go see a psychiatrist. But he's glad his son eventually did, and he's been getting help.

"He continues to just get better and better and better," Tony Coady said.

The hearing had been adjourned since March. It will continue Tuesday.