On Wednesday, the 19-year-old man who is facing first-degree murder charges in the fatal hit-and-run of Calgary Police officer Sargeant Andrew Harnett on New Year's Eve 2020, took the stand once again at the Court of King’s Bench in Calgary. Crown prosecutor Mike Ewenson questioned the accused on the details of the night Sargeant Harnett was killed.
The accused stated that he had met Amir Abdulrahman, the co-accused who has since been sentenced to five years in prison for manslaughter at his home on the evening of December 31, in the Skyview Ranch neighbourhood, though the accused was not able to provide an exact street address of his basement suite apartment. Abdulrahman, the accused, who can't be named as he was underaged at the time of the alleged offence, and a third individual who was also a passenger in the backseat of the SUV at the time of the hit-and-run were to travel to a party in downtown Calgary for New Year's Eve, though the accused was also unable to provide an exact location or address of the party.
Ewenson questioned the accused as to why the traffic stop occurred on Falconbridge Drive, which he posited was nowhere near or on the way to downtown Calgary from Skyview Ranch. The accused claimed that his GPS led him to the Northeast Calgary neighbourhood.
"You'll need to look at a map, my friend. You weren't travelling through Falconbridge Drive to get to that party," Ewenson said.
He also questioned the accused's previous testimony from Tuesday, when the accused said he fled the traffic stop because he was alarmed and panicked.
"Based on previous traffic stops, [you know] that this officer is going to ask for some things. He's going ask for your driver's license, he's going to ask for your registration, and he's going to ask for your insurance. This is all a part of policing," the prosecution stated.
Ewenson asked the accused if he had encountered the police on previous traffic stops, to which the accused said he had, and that all the documents that Sargeant Harnett asked for, were documents that other police had also requested upon stopping him. The accused also admitted that other previous encounters he had with Calgary police were all cordial and polite. When Ewenson played the camera footage from Sargeant Harnett's bodycam, he cast doubt on the accused's previous testimony that he was panicked and anxious because of how the events unfolded.
"There's nothing about you on that video that shows you are panicked. I will give you this; you were cooperative, you were polite and you were honest. You knew he had to identify you and you didn't have a driver's license," Ewenson said.
The accused also previously stated that when he saw Sargeant Harnett touch his gun, he feared for his life and ultimately fled the scene. The prosecution however questioned whether he witnessed the officer touching his gun at all.
"It was very dark - you agreed. It could have just been his hand resting at his side?" the prosecution asked. "We never saw him pull out a gun. His gun is attached to his duty belt, right?"
The accused repeated his testimony from earlier, saying that he saw the officer's hand on the gun and that's when he fled the traffic stop. The prosecution pressed the accused further.
"You waited until all three officers were away from their vehicles and then you put it [the car] into gear," Ewenson stated.
"I didn't know that Officer Harnett was outside at the time. I noticed the officer on the passenger's side first," the accused answered.
Ewenson however theorized that the reason the accused fled at the moment when all the officers were outside their vehicles is that that moment gave him the best route of escape.
"...Because they had to go back to the vehicle to chase you," he said. "I'm not suggesting that you expected the sergeant to grab on the vehicle, but you did see him originally. I'm suggesting to you that there was something in that car that you didn't want the officers to find and that's why it was more worth it to you to flee that traffic stop knowing you already identified yourself."
The crown prosecution then moved on to the moments when the SUV the accused was driving hit a snow berm for a brief moment, in which Sargeant Harnett was still attached to the vehicle. Ewenson questioned the accused as to why when the vehicle hit the berm, did he then accelerate again.
"At that time that you had to put your foot on the gas pedal, Sergeant Harnett is right beside you and while that's occurring as we've seen in the body-worn camera footage, you make the decision to both use your hand, arm and then your leg and foot to push that door," the prosecution stated.
The accused said that at this moment in time Sargeant Harnett was still punching him, though Ewenson said that the melee stopped when the car hit the berm.
"Sargeant Harnett is just holding onto that door and he's ordering you to stop the vehicle and you heard him say that."
Ewenson also called into question the accused's testimony that he didn't know that the officer had fallen off of the vehicle as it accelerated.
"Even though you had a live human being, a police officer inches from you, your evidence is that you didn't realize for a couple of seconds that he wasn't there," he stated
The defence rested their case on Wednesday. The trial is set for final arguments on Thursday morning. The other individual who was named as the co-accused, Amir Abdulrahman who was the passenger at the of the incident pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of manslaughter and was sentenced to five years in prison on January 28.