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Jury begins deliberations in trial of man accused of fatally running over Toronto cop

April 18, 2024  By Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press

Apr. 18, 2024, Toronto, Ont. – Jurors in the trial of a man accused of fatally running over a Toronto police officer began their deliberations Thursday after the judge suggested there is no evidence that “fully supports” the theory behind the Crown’s case for murder.

Umar Zameer has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the death of Det. Const. Jeffrey Northrup, who died on July 2, 2021, after he was hit by a vehicle in an underground parking garage at Toronto City Hall.

At the heart of the case is whether Zameer meant to hit Northrup – or even knew it happened – and whether he knew Northrup and his partner, who were in plain clothes, were police officers.

Prosecutors allege Zameer drove directly at Northrup, who they say was standing at the time, and made deliberate choices to drive dangerously while there were people nearby.


The defence argues Zameer did not intend to kill anyone and behaved reasonably in the face of what he thought was an imminent threat to his family as two unknown people rushed up to his car and banged on it.

In her instructions to the jury Thursday, Ontario Superior Court Justice Anne Molloy said there are four possible verdicts available based on the evidence: first-degree murder, second-degree murder, manslaughter or not guilty of any offence.

In order to find Zameer guilty of murder, jurors must find beyond a reasonable doubt that he saw Northrup standing in front of the car and intentionally drove at him with the intent to kill or to cause bodily harm he knew was likely to result in death, and was reckless as to whether death ensued, she said.

Whether it is first- or second-degree murder depends on whether jurors believe beyond a reasonable doubt that Zameer knew Northrup was a police officer acting in the course of his duties, the judge explained.

Under law, the murder of a police officer acting in the course of their duties is automatically first-degree, so long as the person accused knew or was willfully blind to that fact.

If they do not believe beyond a reasonable doubt that Zameer had the required intent for murder, jurors can consider the lesser included offence of manslaughter, she said.

To reach a guilty verdict on manslaughter, jurors must be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that Zameer committed the unlawful act of dangerous driving and that a reasonable person under the same circumstances would realize they were likely to cause bodily harm that is not brief or trivial in nature, she said.

The test for dangerous driving, she said, is whether his driving was objectively dangerous to the public and represented a marked departure from the standard of care observed by a reasonably prudent driver under the circumstances. Even if they are satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt on those points, jurors must then consider if there was any justification for the driving under the circumstances, she said.

Molloy also instructed jurors to consider the possibility of self-defence for both murder and manslaughter. She noted, however, that self-defence is not an available defence if jurors believe beyond a reasonable doubt that Zameer knew Northrup was a police officer.

The judge said it is up to the jury to decide the facts of the case, but it is her opinion that there is no evidence that “fully supports” the Crown’s theory that the officer was struck while standing out of sight of a security camera.

It is clear from security video that Northrup was not standing in the laneway of the garage, as the three officers who witnessed the incident testified, she said.

But the theory that Northrup was struck standing behind a pillar blocking the camera’s view is not consistent with the evidence of the officers, who were the only eyewitnesses, or with the testimony of two crash reconstruction experts, one of whom was called by the Crown, the judge added.

“All three officers would have to be wrong about this detail in exactly the same way for this theory to make sense. It also raises an issue of whether, if they were wrong about where he was standing, they may also be wrong about if he was standing in front of the BMW at all,” she said.

Molloy told jurors they must also consider whether the officers colluded. All three have denied discussing their evidence with anyone.

“It is possible for one officer to have a memory of Officer Northrup standing in front of the vehicle in the middle of that laneway with his arms raised to his chest level … even if that memory is not accurate,” she said.

“It is for you to decide if it is possible for three officers to have made that same mistake.”

However, the judge said, the defence theory of what happened is consistent with the testimony given by Zameer and his wife, both experts and the security video.

Molloy told jurors they are not bound to follow or even take into account her comments on the evidence.

Zameer testified he thought he and his family were being attacked by robbers or a gang. He testified he was trying to drive away from the people banging on his car and did not see anyone in front of the vehicle as he was driving forward.

Both crash reconstruction experts told the court they concluded Northrup fell after the car made glancing contact with him while reversing, and was on the ground when he was run over. They said there was no physical evidence on the car that would indicate someone had been hit head-on.

The expert called by the defence also said Northrup would have been in the car’s blind zone and not visible to Zameer when on the ground.

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