Crown suggests teen fled traffic stop to avoid search of car: trial

The accused says he feared for his life as Sgt. Andrew Harnett approached his vehicle with his hand on his gun

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The Calgary teen charged with murdering Sgt. Andrew Harnett by dragging him 400 metres from a traffic stop denied Wednesday he was trying to avoid a search of his vehicle.

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The accused, who can’t be named because he was 17 years old at the time of the officer’s death on Dec. 31, 2020, said he didn’t intend for Harnett to be seriously injured when the officer fell from the speeding SUV.

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Crown prosecutor Mike Ewenson grilled the teen on the witness stand about his actions that night after being stopped by Harnett for failing to have his headlights on.

And Ewenson suggested the teen’s motive for fleeing the traffic stop had nothing to do with his fear Harnett or two other officers who arrived at the scene would harm him.

“There’s nothing, I think we agree, in advance that showed they were at all angry, racist, insulting or mean to you, correct?” the prosecutor said after the accused, who is Arabic, said he felt racialized.

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“I think we have different points of view,” the accused said.

“I can guarantee that,” Ewenson said.

“My point of view at the moment, at that time . . . is why is there backup?” he said.

“Why would I give him my name, why would I give him my phone number, why would I give him my address.”

The accused, who is charged with first-degree murder in Harnett’s death, insisted the officer had his hand on his gun when he approached to ticket him, and he feared for his life and fled.

“My anxiety was through the roof. It was 40 minutes (since being stopped).”

The now 19-year-old said the chaotic situation and the circumstances, as well as his experience growing up, made him fear his life was in danger.

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“I was waiting and waiting and waiting. I seen the backup coming. And the fact that it took a while, the fact that he asked me my phone number, the fact that me growing up being racialized . . . all those facts just built my anxiety to go through the roof.

“And when I seen the gun . . . he was holding his hand over the gun.”

But Ewenson suggested something other than fear or anxiety caused him to flee with Harnett hanging onto the driver’s-side door.

“I’ll suggest to you there was something in that car that you didn’t want the officers to find,” he said.

“No, no, no,” the teen said.

Harnett was stuck by an oncoming car and killed after he fell from the SUV as it sped eastbound on Falconridge Boulevard N.E.

Justice Anna Loparco will hear final arguments from Ewenson and defence counsel Zachary Al-Khatib on Thursday.

[email protected]

Twitter: @KMartinCourts

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