‘I’m not a monster’: Teen suspect in death of Calgary officer takes stand at trial
A Calgary teen charged with first-degree murder in the death of a police officer in a hit and run testified Tuesday he feared for his life when he took off in his vehicle with Sgt. Andrew Harnett holding on.
Harnett of the Calgary Police Service died in hospital on Dec. 31, 2020, after being dragged by a fleeing SUV and falling into the path of an oncoming car.
The suspect vehicle’s alleged driver was 17 at the time. He turned 19 in January, but cannot be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
The accused took the witness stand in his own defence, describing an abusive childhood where his family moved 10 times over a decade between Montreal, Toronto and Calgary to get away from his birth father.
He said he, his mother and two older siblings lived mostly in homeless shelters during that time.
In his testimony, he described planning to go to a New Year’s Eve party on the day of Harnett’s death.
The vehicle was pulled over because it didn’t have its lights on, court heard.
As the traffic stop continued and a second police car arrived, the youth said his anxiety level began to rise. When another officer and Harnett approached the vehicle, the accused said he panicked.
“I observed Sgt. Harnett had his hand on his gun and as soon as I seen that, I took off. I was scared. My anxiety was through the roof at that time,” he said.
“I thought something bad was going to happen. I thought just the fact ‘why would he have his hand on his gun?’ I took off. I panicked. I was scared.”
The teen described how Harnett leaned inside the car, holding on to the steering wheel and punching him in the head all the while yelling to “stop the car.”
“The officer grabs onto my hair and starts punching. I’m getting punched and I’m getting punched. As I try to back away my foot hits the accelerator,” he testified.
“It was chaotic, honestly. People are screaming. I feel I have no control. I’m thinking ‘I’m done. I’m going to get dragged out and get killed or seriously injured.’ I was trying to protect myself at this point.”
The accused, wearing glasses with his hair pulled back in a ponytail, choked back tears several times during two hours of testimony.
He said he didn’t even notice when Harnett fell away from the car window and immediately drove home to his basement suite.
“I just kept on driving. Honestly, I was thinking about myself, quite frankly. I wasn’t thinking about the officer,” he testified.
“I didn’t think anything happened to him. I didn’t think about him.”
The teen said he decided to turn himself in after learning that Harnett had been killed. He said he regrets his actions and can only say he is sorry.
“I’m in jail for this. It’s not easy. I feel like people sometimes look at me as a monster. I’m not a monster. I’m sorry for the situation,” he said.
“For the rest of my life, I’m going to be known as someone who killed a police officer. No matter what happens. This is it.”
The Crown is expected to cross-examine the accused on Wednesday, with closing arguments scheduled for Thursday.
Amir Abdulrahman, 20, a passenger in the vehicle, pleaded guilty last December to a lesser charge of manslaughter and was sentenced to five years in prison.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 27, 2022.
Fire & Flower files for court protection from creditors under CCAA
TORONTO — Cannabis retailer Fire & Flower Holdings Corp. says it has received a court order for creditor protection under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act.
The company had been pursuing additional financing to raise capital to fund its operations.
It says the board determined that it was is in the best interests of the company to file an application for creditor protection following a review of its strategic options and a consideration of all of its available alternatives.
Fire & Flower operates under several banners including the Fire & Flower, Friendly Stranger and Firebird Delivery brands.
The company says its board will remain in place and management will remain responsible for the day-to-day operations, under the oversight of a court-appointed monitor while it works to streamline operations and conduct a sales process for the business.
In order to fund the CCAA proceedings and other short-term working capital requirements, Fire & Flower says it has signed an agreement with an affiliate of Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. for a $9.8-million debtor-in-possession loan.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 6, 2023.
Companies in this story: (TSX:FAF, TSX:ATD)
The Canadian Press
City official says Calgary Flames arena deal to include a 35-year commitment to stay
The Scotiabank Saddledome is shown with Calgary’s downtown area in the background on Tuesday, April 25, 2023. A city official says a $1.2-billion deal to replace Calgary’s aging Saddledome with a new NHL arena would come with a 35-year lease that includes a commitment from the owners of the Calgary Flames to stay in the city. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
A city official says a $1.2-billion deal to replace Calgary’s aging Saddledome with a new National Hockey League arena would come with a 35-year lease that includes a commitment from the owners of the Calgary Flames to stay in the city.
The City of Calgary, Alberta government, Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corp., and Calgary Stampede reached an agreement in principle in late April.
City council’s event centre committee met this morning and asked administration some of the questions that have come up since the deal was announced.
Coun. Andre Chabot says there are concerns from some Calgarians that the lease could be terminated.
Calgary’s general manager of infrastructure services, Michael Thompson, says the city has a commitment from Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corp. that it would stay in the city for the 35-year term of the lease.
No one from the company could immediately be reached for comment.
CSEC owns the Flames in the National Hockey League, the Wranglers in the American Hockey League, the Hitmen in the Western Hockey League and the National Lacrosse League’s Roughnecks.
The $1.2-billion price tag for the event centre project includes $800 million for the new arena, as well as parking, transit improvements, a new community rink and an enclosed plaza.
The Alberta government is not contributing directly to the arena, but has said it plans to fund up to $300 million on public transit and road improvements, site utilities, reclamation and other supportive infrastructure.
The province would also contribute $30 million to cover half the cost of the 1,000-seat community rink if the deal is approved by provincial cabinet and the Treasury Board before the end of summer.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 5, 2023.
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