Lawyer for accused in cop’s murder asks public to keep an open mind about ‘tragic case’

TORONTO — The lawyer for a man charged with first-degree murder in the death of a longtime Toronto police officer is pleading with the public to keep an “open mind” about the “tragic case.”

Const. Jeffrey Northrup, 55, was killed on July 2 when he was struck by a vehicle while responding to a report of a robbery in progress at an underground parking lot at Toronto City Hall. Investigators have since described the incident as an “intentional and deliberate act” and have charged 31-year-old Umar Zameer with first-degree murder.

Zameer made a brief appearance in court at Old City Hall on Friday morning, where he was remanded into custody until another appearance scheduled for Aug. 13.

Following his appearance, his lawyer Nader Hasan made a brief statement to reporters in which he expressed “sincere condolences” to Northrup’s family on behalf of his client while asking Torontonians to refrain from making a judgement about the case for now.

“When this matter goes to trial, the complete story of what took place in that city hall parking lot will emerge and it would be a mistake to assume that Mr. Zameer is guilty just because he has been charged with a very serious offence or because a dedicated public servant died on the job during this tragic event,” he said.

Few details have been released about the incident that claimed Northrup’s life and caused his partner to be hospitalized, though police were quick to deem it a homicide.

Hasan said that while “it goes without saying” that what transpired was a “terrible, terrible tragedy,” that doesn’t necessarily mean that criminality was involved.

“It is important to recognize that thus far, you have only been told of an allegation devoid of any context or detail about what is said to have taken place,” he said. “When this matter goes to trial, the evidence; not conjecture and not speculation, will fill in that detail and context and until that time, I ask that you keep an open mind and that you not rush to judgement.”

Northrup spent more than 31 years with the Toronto Police Service at the time of his death, including the last 13 as an officer with 52 Division in downtown Toronto.

He left behind a wife and three children.

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