Former cop says he’s being used as ‘scapegoat’ by Victoria Police in botched drug bust investigation

CHEK

The former Victoria Police officer at the centre of allegations that led to a collapse in major drug trafficking prosecutions says he had no role in decisions that led to Project Juliet’s failure.

Const. Rob Ferris tells CBC News that the drug investigation began when he was no longer an active Victoria Police officer.

“The Victoria Police Department is using me as a scapegoat for the failure of Project Juliet,” said Ferris in the statement. “The downfall of Project Juliet was a result of the members and the leadership/management.”

He’s not the only one.

Former Victoria Police Board member and lawyer Paul Schachter says Ferris’ misconduct was the trigger for the breakdown of the investigation, but not the root cause of the problem.

“There seems to be a major systems failure here for which VicPD management should be held responsible, rather than simply blaming a lower level person who was likely acting under orders,” Schachter told CHEK News in a statement.

What’s resulted is a legal fiasco. Three people who Victoria Police said were “at the top of the fentanyl pyramid,” one a convicted murderer, are walking away with all trafficking charges dropped.

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When asked, Victoria Police did not address CHEK News’ questions regarding the allegations that the force is using Ferris or lead investigator Const. Kim Taylor as the ‘fall guys’ for the failed investigation.

“Depending on what they find, there could be a request for additional investigations, but it’s important that we allow the investigation to take its course,” VicPD Chief Del Manak told CHEK News in a statement.

It’s something the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner (OPCC) echoed.

“This investigation will examine all relevant circumstances relating to this matter and will ensure that any relevant allegations of police misconduct relating to ‘Project Juliet’ are assessed for investigation under the Police Act,” said Andrea Spindler, deputy police commissioner with the OPCC.

In the meantime, another complaint is being filed. This one is a policy complaint that puts the responsibility on the local municipal police board to investigate potential deficiencies in management, direction, polices, internal procedures and practices.

“If the board simply refers the complaint to Chief Manak, they will be exposed as unwilling to take management failures seriously,” said Schachter, who filed the complaint to the Victoria Police Board. “I hope that [Public Safety] Minister Farnworth and police services would find that unacceptable.”

The board has the power under the law to require an independent investigation. Board co-chairs, the mayors of Esquimalt and Victoria, weren’t commenting Wednesday.

“The residents of Victoria and all of B.C. deserve a police department with integrity they can trust, not one that is willing to lie to and deceive the Crown and the judiciary for the sake of getting a conviction at all costs. We are now left to wonder whether those accused are guilty or just caught up in police fabrication. The rights that were trampled on are there to protect all. It’s disturbing that VicPD failed to respect our rights,” said Schachter.

SEE ALSO: 14 Victoria Police officers retired while under investigation in last 10 years

Kori SidawayKori Sidaway

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