Man pleads guilty to manslaughter in death of police officer from Hagersville
One of two people charged in the death of Sgt. Andrew Harnett, a Calgary police officer who grew up in Hagersville, Ont., pleaded guilty to manslaughter on Wednesday.
Sgt. Harnett dreamt of becoming a police officer as a kid growing up in Haldimand County. After serving in the military, he joined the Calgary Police Service, where he worked for 12 years.
Harnett stopped an SUV in a Calgary neighbourhood on Dec. 31, 2020 after noticing the vehicle's licence plate didn't match its registration. The vehicle took off, dragging the 37 year old for more than 400 metres before he was thrown into the path of another vehicle and hit.
Two other officers attempted to revive Harnett but he died about an hour later.
Amir Abdulrahman was the passenger in the SUV. Police body camera footage showed Abdulrahman leaning over and taking control of the steering wheel at the time of the incident. He and the other accused were charged with first-degree murder, an automatic offence in Canada in cases involving the death of an on-duty police officer.
Abdulrahman pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter days before his trial was set to begin.
A teen, who can't be named, is also facing a charge of first-degree murder in Harnett's death. His trial is scheduled to start at the end of January.
"He could have said 'stop', the gas pedal could have been released, the whole scenario could have been completely different," Harnett's brother Jason said on Wednesday.
Abdulrahman's lawyer said his client was hanging around with the wrong crowd.
"It had some bad bad consequences for him, but as we heard in court today, he's seen the error of his ways," defence attorney Balfour Der said.
In a victim statement, Harnett's widow Chelsea Goedhart, who was pregnant at the time of his death, described the pain of knowing her child would never meet his father. Goedhart said "My son's innocence was taken before he was born."
Abdulrahman will be sentenced in January. The crown has asked for eight to 10 years in prison, while the defence wants two years in prison followed by two years of probation.