The driver who killed a Calgary police officer during a traffic stop on New Year’s Eve 2020 will face an adult sentence after a judge ruled the three-year maximum youth sentence for manslaughter was not sufficient to hold the young man accountable.
On Wednesday, Court of King’s Bench Justice Anna Loparco also said a youth sentence would not be sufficient to manage the driver’s high risk to violently reoffend. The judge identified him throughout her decision as A.M.
“It would be imprudent to conclude that A.M. will be adequately rehabilitated in three years,” said Loparco in delivering her one-hour oral decision.
“A.M. is at high risk to violently reoffend … he cannot be safely managed with a three-year youth sentence.”
The young man, now 20 years old, was 11 days away from his 18th birthday at the time of Sgt. Andrew Harnett’s death.
One New Year’s Eve 2020, after being pulled over because his headlights weren’t on, the driver took off. Harnett, who was clinging to the side of the SUV, was dragged 400 metres before he was flung into the path of an oncoming car.
“This flight was a choice, not an impulse,” said Loparco.
Crown wants 11-13 year sentence
A.M. was originally charged with first-degree murder, but following a trial was convicted of manslaughter.
Prosecutor Mike Ewenson applied to have the driver sentenced as an adult while defence lawyers Zachary Al-Khatib and Robert LaValley argued a youth sentence offered the young man the greatest chance at rehabilitation.
Ewenson argued an 11-to-13 year sentence is appropriate.
The judge will hear arguments from the defence on an appropriate length of sentence later this month.
Because of his age at the time of the crime, the driver cannot be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA) until his adult sentence is handed down.
Amir Abdulrahman, who was a passenger in the SUV at the time, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was handed a five-year sentence in January 2022.