New Brunswick

Psychiatrist links Fredericton police officer's false reports to ADHD

Undiagnosed ADHD may be partly why suspended Fredericton Police Force Constable Zach Coady lied in police reports, a psychiatrist testified.

Zach Coady admitted to falsifying reports in five cases and lying to a superior in 2017

Zach Coady was diagnosed with ADHD after he was suspended in 2017. (Catherine Harrop/CBC)

Undiagnosed ADHD may be partly why suspended Fredericton Police Force constable Zach Coady lied in police reports, a psychiatrist testified Tuesday.

Defence witness Dr. Edward Yuzda was the only one to testify at Coady's arbitration hearing Tuesday.

Coady, 28, previously admitted to lying about contacting complainants and following through with investigations in five different cases. 

The seven-year officer still wants to keep his job, while the force wants him out. The arbitration hearing will decide his fate.

Psychiatrist Dr. Edward Yuzda examined Coady in 2018. (Hadeel Ibrahim/CBC)

Yuzda said Coady's attention deficit hyperactivity disorder caused him to be overwhelmed on the job, which led him to make poor decisions and cover up his shortcomings by falsifying reports.

"Intentionally lying and then hiding information about his shortcomings regarding the paperwork … is a result, at least in part, of his diagnosis of ADHD," Yuzda said.

Yuzda said lying, or deceit, is not a symptom of ADHD, but the stress of being a police officer and the anxiety that comes with ADHD "cascaded" to Coady making false reports.

The psychiatrist examined Coady in 2018. By that time Coady had already been taking medication for ADHD, anxiety and depression, and had his symptoms under control. 

Yuzda said people with the type of ADHD Coady has — called "inattentive type" — don't show hyperactivity but have trouble focusing, seeming "somewhere else almost," Yuzda said.

These symptoms include failing to give close attention to details, making careless mistakes, not seeming to listen when spoken to directly and not following through with orders.

Accommodation policy

Coady 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. 

Coady's defence lawyer T. J. Burke said his client's medical problem should just mean the police force needs to accommodate his condition, not fire him for it.

"It's very much akin to somebody who has a particular disability that is not an obvious physical disability like alcoholism," Burke said in an interview. "If somebody is an alcoholic and they're being treated for it … it's not tantamount to person just being outright dismissed."

Deputy Chief Martin Gaudet of the Fredericton Police Force says almost every aspect of police work would be impacted by an officer's proven dishonesty. (Jon Collicott/CBC)

On Monday, Martin Gaudet, the deputy chief, testified it would be almost impossible for a police officer to return to the job after admitting to lying to superiors and in reports.

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 previously testified.

The lawyers representing the police force plan to call their own psychiatrist, who also examined Coady in 2018. The hearing will resume in mid-July.