James Cody, who defeated Operation Razorback charges, killed in Craigmillar Avenue shooting
Friends of 47-year-old say they've lost kind, funny, generous man
James Cody, a man who took his drug case to the Supreme Court of Canada and won, was killed in what police are calling a suspicious death in the west end of St. John's.
The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary is saying little about the slaying, which shut down Craigmillar Avenue Sunday and kept residents inside their homes.
Police officers were outside 40 Craigmillar Ave. early Tuesday afternoon, taking photographs and surveying the crime scene. A police dog was also present.
At the same time, Cody's friends gathered in St. John's in a celebration of his life as they await further details of what happened.
Video surveillance from a nearby street captured the sounds of five gunshots around 4 a.m. Officers responded shortly after to what the police called "unknown trouble," and issued a shelter-in-place advisory an hour later. The street remained shut down for more than 12 hours, until 5 p.m.
Cody's vehicle, with the driver's side door ajar, was found directly outside the home of Kurt Churchill, a man who was arrested six years ago in a high-profile drug probe targeting cocaine dealers.
Police began investigating Churchill and another man in 2013 after receiving information from sources that they were "high-level cocaine traffickers."
The Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit-Newfoundland & Labrador had Churchill under surveillance for six months before their arrests. The police intercepted cellphone traffic and bugged vehicles, as part of a probe dubbed Operation Battalion.
In March 2014, investigators found $300,000 hidden in the lining of two suitcases at an airport in Montreal.
Churchill and his co-accused would later be acquitted after their lawyers filed applications over unfair trial delays, and the Crown called no evidence.
On Sunday morning, Cody's body, which was covered by a yellow blanket or tarp, was seen farther up the street from Churchill's home.
No one has been charged in connection with the slaying, and police have not identified any suspects.
Drug case tossed
Cody, 47, was arrested as part of Operation Razorback, a massive interprovincial drug probe, in 2010.
He was not initially a suspect in the investigation but he happened to be with a primary target at the time of that person's arrest.
A search of Cody's vehicle uncovered half a kilogram of marijuana, a kilogram of cocaine and a stun gun.
However, the case was thrown out in 2017 by the Supreme Court of Canada, because he had to wait five years for a five-day trial.
The unanimous 7-0 ruling made national headlines as it upheld the principles of the Jordan decision, which imposed an 18-month timeline for a case to be wrapped up in lower court, and 30 months for a superior court case.
'I've lost my closest, best friend'
Friends of Cody gathered in St. John's on Tuesday afternoon in a celebration of his life.
Chris Howlett had been best friends with Cody since Grade 6, and says he is in shock over what's happened.
"I've lost my closest, best friend.… Jamie stood in my wedding," Howlett said.
"He was a very caring guy, very funny guy, very generous. Not very many people will say a bad word about Jamie."
Howlett is remembering his friend for his love of life, the water and motorcycling — not his criminal history.
He said Cody, who was originally from Mount Pearl, had many godchildren and was known as a surrogate uncle.
Howlett said he hasn't heard much about what transpired Sunday morning.
"I have no idea. I have goosebumps here thinking about it. I wish I did but I have no idea."
Cody leaves behind a mother, sisters, godchildren and a large circle of friends.
With files from Rob Antle