Anger, fatigue got the better of female Mountie
Anger, fatigue got the better of Mountie;
Report on cop who fired gun says she’s calm, stable
By PATRICIA BROOKS ARENBURG Staff Reporter
A fight over their soured relationship and a shared child led a South Shore Mountie to fire her semi-automatic pistol nine times through her bathroom wall and into a dirt pile while her ex-lover was still on the property.
Const. Adree Zahara described her affair with fellow officer Const. Chuck Simm as “tense” and told a probation officer that she had a “lot of conflicting feelings of guilt and uncertainty,” court documents say.
The Mountie explained her actions by saying she was “at the point of exhaustion as she did not get a lot of sleep over the previous few days, due to her work schedule,” her Jan. 18 presentence report says.
She was also “not in a good place,” she told the probation officer, and said it was “out of character for me to react in that way.”
The officer also said she didn’t have “any intentions of hurting him or herself,” the report says.
The former lovers started their relationship while Const. Zahara was still married to another RCMP officer, Const. Graham Cook.
The 40-year-old officer never describes in the report what exactly she did on Oct. 15, the day of the shooting.
The only vague reference the report makes to the events comes from Const. Simm, her former common-law husband and the only other person at her Chester Basin home.
“They were discussing their relationship and how it pertained to their son when the incident occurred,” he told the probation officer.
Const. Zahara, an eight-year force veteran who has served only in Nova Scotia, was handed a conditional discharge Wednesday for careless use of a firearm. She was put on probation for a year and must not possess weapons, except at work, for two years.
The court heard Wednesday that she called Const. Simm, while he was working, to her home to discuss their three-year-old son while she was getting ready for her shift. She got angry, went into her room and started smashing things. When Const. Simm heard shots, he kicked in the door and took her gun until she calmed down. Then he gave it back to her and she went to work.
In her presentence report, Const. Zahara says the relationship ended amicably and they were seeing each other daily before the shooting. Afterward, she says, they only saw each other during prearranged visits with her mother present to allow access to their son.
The shooting and Const. Zahara’s sentence have left some in the community shaking their heads. Her supporters, including current and former bosses such as Bridgewater Police Chief Brent Crowhurst, RCMP District Cmdr.(P.E.I.) Larry Kavanaugh and Cpl. Gary White of the Chester detachment, described what happened as out of character.
Even Const. Simm told the probation officer that, although he and Const. Zahara had argued before, he had never seen her react in such a volatile way.
But he later told the report’s author that he wanted the court to order that Const. Zahara have no contact with him except by phone and that she “remain away from his current address or any future residence.”
Const. Zahara was born in Truro in 1966. She graduated from Cobequid Educational Centre at age 18 and left to attend Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax. She earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and at age 23 married Khalid Faride, also known as Khalid Abu-Dumaidah. The couple lived in Stellarton and New Glasgow, where her husband worked as an engineer, but they divorced when she was 27.
She later had a nine-year relationship with Const. Cook, and the couple separated in January 2003 after 2 1/2 years of marriage. That was about the time she took up with Const. Simm, the court documents say. Their relationship continued from January 2003 until December 2005. During this period Const. Zahara had a son, whose father is Const. Simm.
Although divorce records are no longer public, property records show Const. Zahara and Const. Cook dropped their legal claims to each other’s properties in 2005 and stated they were still legally married at the time.
Before graduating from the RCMP training depot in Regina, Const. Zahara worked as a counsellor at the Adolescent Assessment Centre in Stellarton and the Nova Scotia Residential Centre in Truro, and as a sheriff’s deputy for the provincial Justice Department.
She has no drug or alcohol problems and although she is on medication for attention deficit disorder, her friend and doctor “Jolene Jarvis described (Const. Zahara) as a very calm, outgoing, relaxed individual “who also “is emotionally stable and handles stress well,” the presentence report says.
Const. Zahara is on the board of Harbour House women’s shelter in Bridgewater and has participated in Citizens on Patrol and the opening of the Mill Cove community policing office.
She was listed as an instructor for a women’s self-defence class in the 2006 Chester-area winter recreation program and as a workshop presenter for the Chester meeting of the Nova Scotia Teachers’ Association for Literacy and Learning 2003, offering information on drug awareness, the Youth Criminal Justice Act and young people in conflict with the law.
One of the senior RCMP officers who spoke to The Chronicle Herald last week on condition of anonymity said he had worked with her and hadn’t experienced any problems. But he said she was “nothing special” as a police officer.
The officers said her actions and the way the RCMP was handling the internal investigation into the shooting were damaging the force’s reputation. In fact, news of her crime has been published on a Hells Angels-related website that regularly posts stories about police officers in trouble with the law.
Const. Zahara is now awaiting the results of an internal probe into her actions. She will continue doing administrative work for the RCMP’s violent crime linkage analysis system in Bedford, as she has since Nov. 3, until the case is complete.
Despite the sentencing provisions, she won’t get her gun back, if at all, until the force determines whether she can still be a Mountie.