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Teen driver who killed Sgt. Andrew Harnett should get 7.5 year sentence: defence

The driver who killed a Calgary police officer during a traffic stop on New Year’s Eve 2020 should be handed a seven-and-a-half-year sentence, his lawyer argued Wednesday.

Now 20 years old, the driver was 11 days away from his 18th birthday at the time of Sgt. Andrew Harnett’s death. Because he was a youth at the time of the crime, a publication ban protects his identity.

In May, Court of King’s Bench Justice Anna Loparco ruled the young man would be sentenced as an adult after finding the three-year maximum youth sentence for manslaughter would not be sufficient to hold him accountable for his crime.

The judge has identified the driver as A.M. 

Earlier this year, prosecutor Mike Ewenson argued an 11 to 13 year sentence would be appropriate. 

Amir Abdulrahman, who was a passenger in the SUV at the time of Harnett’s death, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was handed a five-year sentence in January 2022.

On Wednesday, defence lawyer Zachary Al-Khatib asked Loparco to impose a seven-and-a-half year sentence, agreeing that as the driver, his client, was more culpable but “not by that much.”

Flight from police ‘not an impulse’

One New Year’s Eve 2020, after being pulled over because his headlights weren’t on, the driver took off with Harnett, who was clinging to the side of the SUV.

Harnett was dragged about 400 metres with the SUV reaching speeds of 100 km/h before the officer lost his grip. He fell into the oncoming lane on Falconridge Boulevard N.E., where he was struck by a car.

Loparco ruled the flight from police “was a choice, not an impulse.”

“He should have stopped the car,” said Al-Khatib. “But the intention wasn’t to kill the officer with the car.”

A.M. was originally charged with first-degree murder but following a trial was convicted of manslaughter. 

Loparco will hand down her decision on sentence in September. 

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