Blue Line

Police officer fell to ground before he was run over, crash reconstructionist says

April 3, 2024  By Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press

Apr. 3, 2024, Toronto, Ont. – A collision reconstructionist who analyzed the scene where a Toronto police officer died nearly three years ago concluded the officer was knocked to the ground before he was run over, court heard Wednesday.

Toronto police officer Jeff Bassingthwaite took the stand at the trial of Umar Zameer, who has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the death of Det. Const. Jeffrey Northrup.

Northrup died on July 2, 2021, after he was struck by a vehicle in an underground parking garage at Toronto City Hall.

Bassingthwaite, who wrote and updated a report on the collision, testified he found Northrup was knocked down by the car’s front left fender as it was backing out of a parking space, then rolled under the vehicle as it accelerated forward down the laneway.


Security footage from the garage shows a lighter coloured “unidentified object” on the ground below the front bumper, and Bassingthwaite said he believes that object is Northrup. The lighter colour aligns with descriptions and photographs of what Northrup was wearing at the time, he said.

Court has heard Northrup and the other officers present were in plain clothes, meaning they were not in uniform.

Bassingthwaite said the video then shows the car’s front end rise as if going over a speed bump, but there were no speed bumps in the garage. It would not have made the same sound as a speed bump, however, he said. Going over a speed bump can sound like metal grinding, but tests with crash dummies suggest going over a body sounds like a thud or thump, he said.

Three police officers who witnessed the incident previously testified Northrup was standing in the laneway with his hands up when he was run over, but the defence says the officer had already been knocked to the ground when it happened.

Bassingthwaite told the court Wednesday the spot where the object appeared on the ground aligns with the beginning of what he called a body scuff – a mark where a body comes into contact with the ground.

The scuff, which measured over six metres, contained clothing debris, including grommets and a button, and ended in a “large pool of blood,” he said, adding it suggests Northrup’s body was “tumbling and rolling” as it went under the vehicle.

Leading up to the scuff was an acceleration mark, also around six metres, he said.

The reconstructionist said his findings were based on the totality of the evidence, including summaries of witness statements, forensic reports, the security video, and marks on the vehicle.

A fingerprint on the hood suggests Northrup was near the front left fender when he was knocked down by the reversing car, he testified.

Bassingthwaite also concluded the collision was avoidable, but agreed that didn’t add much to the analysis.

“There are very few collisions that are not avoidable in some way,” he said.

Zameer’s wife, Aaida Shaikh, testified Tuesday that she had no idea they had hit a person until she heard it from investigators, and thought they had gone over a speed bump.

Shaikh told the court she and her husband didn’t know the people who rushed towards their car that night were police officers in plainclothes, and instead believed they were being attacked.

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