In the hours after he left a police officer for dead in the middle of a Calgary street, Amir Abdulrahman told his mother he wasn’t involved, according to a court document no longer under a publication ban.
“Mom, I didn’t do anything, it’s not my fault,” Abdulrahman said to his mother before he turned himself in to face a charge of first-degree murder.
“I have all the respect, but things happen,” he said.
Abdulrahman pleaded guilty to manslaughter Wednesday in the New Years Eve death of Sgt. Andrew Harnett who was dragged more than 400 meters before he lost his grip and fell into the path of an oncoming car.
A youth, the alleged driver of an SUV, also faces a charge of first-degree murder. He goes on trial next month.
Judge’s 28-page bail decision
On April 28, 2021, Court of Queen’s Bench Justice David Gates issued a 28-page decision to deny bail to the 20-year-old. The decision was protected by a publication ban until Abdulrahman’s plea.
At Abdulrahman’s bail hearing, his parents testified, offering a cash deposit of $10,000 and a $75,000 surety.
But despite what the judge called a “comprehensive release plan,” Gates ruled Abdulrahman must remain detained.
“This is one of the rare situations where … the maintenance of public confidence in the administration of justice, requires the accused’s pre-trial detention,” wrote the judge.
The decision offers new details on the passenger, his family and his actions in the hours after Harnett’s death.
Abdulrahman gets in with ‘the wrong crowd’
Abdulrahman was born in Winnipeg in 2000 to Iraqi parents who, a year earlier, had fled Syria.
Three more sons were born and the family moved to Calgary in 2005.
Here, the parents worked hard, building their business. Abdulrahman worked for his father after graduating from high school.
At the age of 17, Abdulrahman began hanging out with, what his lawyer described as, the wrong crowd.
On Dec. 31, 2020, Abdulrahman’s parents and two of his brothers were in B.C. on an annual family trip.
Abdulrahman had travelled back to Calgary and was headed to a New Years Eve party with a younger friend and another man, who remains unidentified.
Cops show up for backup
Harnett was working that night and left for his shift, his wife, “as always, asking him to be safe,” she said in her victim impact statement Wednesday.
Earlier in his shift, Harnett had a lighter on-shift moment when he found people loitering but before making them leave the area, he told his brother he’d let them finish their beers.
Just before 11 p.m., Harnett pulled over an SUV after noting it didn’t have its lights on. Despite the driver not having a license on him, Harnett’s body-worn camera footage shows he was kind and polite to those in the vehicle.
According to the bail decision, once they had been pulled over, Abdulrahman learned there were drugs in the vehicle.
Nearby, Const. Osmond and Const. Desroches heard Harnett initiate a traffic stop over their police radios and, knowing he worked alone, showed up within minutes in case he needed backup.
76 km/h in a 50 km/h zone
Harnett discovered Abdulrahman was wanted on warrants. The plan was for him to issue the traffic tickets to the driver while Desroches was arresting Abdulrahman.
Harnett was at the driver’s window when the vehicle took off. He held onto the inside of the driver’s side door.
For more than 400 meters, Harnett was dragged — through a parking lot and then down Falconridge Drive NE.
An accident report found the SUV reached speeds of 76 km/h in a 50 km/h zone, according to the bail document.
Eventually, Harnett lost his grip and rolled into the path of an oncoming car.
‘I am sure he is innocent’
When his parents testified before Gates, his father said he wanted his son back.
“I believe he doesn’t do anything bad … anything stupid,” said Abdulrahman’s father.
“I am sure he is innocent.”
Gates wrote that he had no doubt Abdulrahman’s parents are “honest, law abiding and very well-meaning individuals.”
But the judge found they likely lacked the ability to control their son’s actions.
‘I will change my ways’
Gates also expressed concern about the parents’ travel to B.C. during a time in the pandemic when both provincial governments had issued travel advisories, asking people not to cross borders.
“The decision to travel over the Christmas period in the face of these travel advisories suggests that Mr. Abdulrahman and Ms. Abboud are prepared to place personal interests or priorities over civic responsibilities,” wrote Gates.
While Abdulrahman wasn’t taking responsibility for his actions before his arrest, he changed his message in court on Wednesday, issuing an apology to Harnett’s family, co-workers, the two officers who were on-scene with him and the driver who struck the officer.
“I promise I will change my ways,” he said. “I am so sorry it took the loss of someone’s life.”
Abdulrahman said he’s taken the last year to reflect on his “poor choices.”
“I am sorry for every tear you guys shed,” he said addressing Harnett’s family.
The prosecution has asked the judge who accepted Abdulrahman’s guilty plea to impose an eight to nine year sentence while his lawyer has proposed two years behind bars plus two years on probation.
A decision on sentence will be made January 28, three days before the youth’s first-degree murder trial begins.