Blue Line

‘A line in the sand:’ Crown wants adult sentence for Calgary youth in police death

April 26, 2023  By The Canadian Press

Apr. 26, 2023, Calgary, Alta. – A prosecutor has asked a judge to impose an adult sentence of 11 to 13 years on a young offender found guilty of manslaughter in the hit-and-run death of a Calgary police officer.

Sgt. Andrew Harnett died in hospital on Dec. 31, 2020, after being dragged by a fleeing SUV and falling into the path of an oncoming car.

The driver, who cannot be identified because he was 17 at the time, testified during his first-degree murder trial that he was frightened when Harnett and another officer approached the vehicle during a traffic stop and he saw Harnett put his hand on his gun.

The driver’s defence lawyer had argued his client was guilty of manslaughter, not murder, and the judge agreed when she announced her verdict last year.

Crown prosecutor Mike Ewenson said the man, who is now 20, was days away from his 18th birthday when the officer was killed and deserves to be tried as an adult.

“If this offence had occurred just 11 days later, this discussion, with all due respect, wouldn’t be happening,” he told Court of King’s Bench Justice Anna Loparco on Wednesday.

“He may have already been planning his 18th birthday party, that’s how close we are to law considering him to be an adult.”

He said in this case, the law “has to draw a line in the sand between youth and adult.”

In her verdict, Loparco said she couldn’t find that the accused had the intent to commit the crime.

But Ewenson said: “His moral blameworthiness is through the roof.”

Although the driver did not have the intent to murder, his actions led to the death of a police officer, the prosecutor said.

“It is one of the most serious crimes that a person can commit in Canadian law,” he said.

“For Sgt. Harnett, this is not just someone who is a brother, a son, a partner and an expectant father at the time he was killed. This was taking the life of someone who quite literally took an oath to protect each and every member of the community here in Calgary.”

The court is to hear five victim impact statements Thursday, including two from Harnett’s brothers.

Loparco is to rule May 10 on whether an adult sentence is appropriate.

The passenger in the vehicle, Amir Abdulrahman, earlier pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to five years.

Print this page


Stories continue below