CALGARY — Two teens accused in a police officer’s death made their first court appearances Monday while a memorial of flowers and balloons continued to grow at the site where he was killed.
Blue ribbons were tied to trees, light standards, mailboxes and onto police cars in Calgary in memory of Sgt. Andrew Harnett, who was hit and dragged late Thursday night while attempting to stop an SUV with plates that didn’t match.
Police say paramedics and fellow officers tried to revive Harnett, but the 37-year-old died in hospital nearly an hour later.
A 17-year-old who police believe was driving the SUV and an alleged passenger, 19-year-old Amir Abdulrahman, listened by phone while their matters were dealt with in court.
Both are charged with first-degree murder. The Crown noted the most serious charge is automatic in deaths involving a police officer.
A bail hearing for the 17-year-old, who turns 18 on Monday, has been scheduled for Jan. 19. He cannot be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
After his arrest, he was put in 14-day isolation to help prevent the possible spread of COVID-19. He won’t be able to attend court in person until that ends.
“The young person has a right to be present during the proceedings and I do have concerns respecting a telephone appearance,” said Crown prosecutor Doug Taylor.
“The attorney general is obliged to put on the record that we are opposed to the young person’s release. The arguments will be made with respect to safety and protection of the public and maintain confidence in the administration of justice.”
Taylor said he would be calling a witness and show a video during the bail hearing.
Memorial still being planned for Sgt. Andrew Harnett
Defence lawyer Balfour Der, who will be representing Abdulrahman, asked the court to adjourn his client’s matter until Feb. 4 so Der could review the file.
Abdulrahman is facing four other outstanding charges related to an assault last fall and failures to appear in court.
Der, who was previously a prosecutor, said he understands how strongly the community feels when a police officer is killed.
“It’s always difficult in a case like this, when you’re standing on the other side with people you’re dealing with on a day-to-day basis, because for me it isn’t personal in any of these cases — they’re doing their jobs and I’m doing mine,” Der said outside court.
“It’s about me representing the interests of this young man, finding out what is there for evidence, and giving him the advice that he needs one way or another.”
Harnett had been with the Calgary Police Service for 12 years and before that had spent time as a military police officer with the Canadian Forces.
A spokesman with the police said a memorial for Harnett is still being planned.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 4, 2021