A long-time Windsor police informant who said he was buying drugs for cops
when he was arrested on two counts of trafficking cocaine was found not guilty Wednesday in a ruling that questioned the credibility of some Windsor police officers.
“I cannot be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt as to whether Ziad Chafchak is guilty of either of these offences,” Superior Court Justice Joseph Quinn said.
Chafchak never denied having five baggies of cocaine totalling 2.5 grams on him when he was arrested just before 5 p.m. on May 15, 2008, outside an apartment building at 825 Louis Ave.
The case hinged on why he had the drugs. Police said he was a drug dealer, regularly going in and out of an apartment where he kept his stash. Chafchak said he was making a prearranged buy on behalf of police but was double-crossed for ratting out Const. Michael Shannon.
Chafchak testified that he told the professional standards branch that he was pulled over by Shannon, who has since admitted to a long-time drug addiction and who at the time wanted names of drug dealers. Shannon was arrested in a 2007 RCMP sting operation in which he stole $425.
Chafchak, 43, who has not been allowed to leave Windsor since his arrest, broke into tears after being found not guilty.
“Thank you,” he said in court in a strained voice.
“I feel like I’m a new-born,” Chafchak, who now works for an insurance company, said outside court. “Since 2008 they have been treating me like a criminal. It’s very bad. Stress. I couldn’t go anywhere. I had to sign in every week. I couldn’t travel.
“But I’m very happy. I want to get on with my life now.”
Though he rendered a not-guilty verdict, Justice Quinn questioned Chafchak’s credibility on the stand.
“While I do not accept Ziad’s evidence as credible, it did raise doubts in my mind as to his guilt,” Quinn said. “There were also aspects of the Crown’s evidence that raised doubts as to the guilt of Ziad.”
For instance, Quinn said that a number of officers admitted to working with Chafchak as an informant, though they denied on the stand that Chafchak worked as an agent buying drugs for police. Yet Quinn noted that one arrest of an alleged drug dealer in a mall parking lot — in which Const. Ted Novak was involved — appeared set up through Chafchak.
“Police Const. Novak strongly denied Ziad ever acting as an agent for him,” Quinn said. “I found, however, Ziad’s evidence of the drug deal in front of Moxies restaurant at Devonshire Mall on March 12, 2007, more credible than that of police Const. Novak. Ziad’s version of events would clearly indicate Ziad’s role as an agent.”
Quinn wondered about the recollection of Novak, to whom Chafchak said he often supplied information. Quinn noted that evidence showed Novak called Chafchak 80 times in 2007 and 2008.
“Ziad for 10 years provided information to the WPS on illegal drug transactions,” Quinn said. “Ziad was not a user or an addict. A rational inference could be drawn from these facts that Ziad’s information came from his involvement in the drug community.”
Quinn also questioned the credibility of Const. Timothy Kettlewell, the lead officer on the arrest of Chafchak. Kettlewell later pleaded guilty to stealing two lottery tickets he tried to redeem in an unrelated incident. He was recalled to testify about the theft.
“I must consider the nature of police Const. Kettlewell’s conviction and exercise caution in accepting his evidence,” Quinn said.
Toronto-based federal prosecutor Clyde Bond declined comment.
Windsor police Chief Al Frederick said he intends to look at Quinn’s ruling.
“I have asked Supt. (John) St. Louis to get a copy of that decision,” Frederick said. “We will review the comments by the judge and see if there are any next steps that need to happen.”
Defence lawyer Patrick Ducharme praised his client for taking the stand.
“One of the most difficult cases I have ever been asked to argue,” Ducharme said. “Only the evidence of Mr. Chafchak stood against and challenged the evidence of several experienced police drug investigators. It is inspiring that against those odds the judge, delivering very detailed reasons, found Mr. Chafchak not guilty.”
Written by Craig Pearson – Windsor Star
Photo by Nick Brancaccio – Windsor Star