'Concocted': Prosecutor attacks teen's testimony in officer's hit-and-run death

CALGARY — The Crown says the evidence from a teen charged with first-degree murder in the hit-and-run death of a Calgary police officer is both "vague and unreliable."

Sgt. Andrew Harnett died in hospital on Dec. 31, 2020, after being dragged by a fleeing SUV and falling into the path of an oncoming car.

The alleged driver, who cannot be identified because he was 17 at the time, has testified he was scared when Harnett and another officer approached the vehicle during a traffic stop and he saw Harnett put his hand on his gun.

Prosecutor Mike Ewenson said the evidence shows there's no doubt that the teen, who's now 19, meant to cause harm to Harnett and that his actions were reckless whether or not the death occurred.

"The young person's evidence should be totally dismissed. It is purely self-serving and quite frankly it's the only thing he can say. He can't say he didn't do it," Ewenson told Court of King's Bench Justice Anna Loparco. "He is vague and unreliable."

Ewenson said there is no evidence to corroborate the teen's testimony that he was in a state of panic and felt he was being racialized.

"He is so self-assured he calls the officer brother three times. He's entirely unaffected, confident and conversing with the officer," said Ewenson.

"What you have is Sgt. Harnett being polite and the young person is fine."

Ewenson showed a number of videos including those from a body cam that Harnett was wearing and others with a bird's-eye view from a helicopter.

"Please take note at the mannerisms and movements of Sgt. Harnett when he left the vehicle. His arms were swinging from side to side. No signs of enhanced risk or any sign that any of the officers would have use of force on their minds," he said.

"There was no hand on the gun. He was just walking up casually. That was a concocted result."

Ewenson said Harnett was attached to the fleeing car for a total of 427 metres from when the vehicle took off to the point that he fell off. The vehicle was doing double the posted speed limit, he added.

He said the teen was also aware Harnett was attached to his vehicle but still drove away at a high rate of speed and opened the door in an attempt to shake him off.

"The young person in the Crown's view meant to cause Sgt. Harnett bodily harm, which he knew was likely to cause his death and he was reckless whether death ensued or not."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 29, 2022.

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press