CALGARY — A young man convicted in the hit-and-run death of a Calgary police officer has been sentenced to 12 years in prison.
Sgt. Andrew Harnett, 37, died after he was dragged by an SUV and fell into the path of an oncoming car on Dec. 31, 2020.
The driver of the SUV, who is now 20, was days away from turning 18 and was charged as a youth with first-degree murder.
Court of King's Bench Justice Anna Loparco convicted him of manslaughter and ordered that he receive an adult sentence.
In her sentencing decision Wednesday, she gave four years credit for the time he has already spent in custody, meaning he has eight years left to serve.
A publication ban remains on the offender’s name until the end of an appeal period.
"Homicide is one of the most serious crimes we recognize as a society," Loparco said. "In the case where the victim of a homicide is a police officer acting in the course of his duties, public condemnation of this crime increases."
She added that the driver took several, deliberate steps to dislodge the officer.
"His actions are far from near accident and approach near murder. His moral culpability is extremely high," Loparco said.
"There's no way to give back a life."
The judge noted that Harnett's wife was pregnant with their first child when he was killed and the death fractured his family.
The driver apologized to Harnett's family before receiving his sentence.
"I would like to apologize to the family of the officer. I'd like to apologize to society. I'm truly sorry. I accept responsibility," he said.
The driver made earlier apologies and expressed remorse but the judge gave him little credit for his words.
"The focus of his remorse was how it affected his own future," she said.
The Crown had asked for a sentence of 11 to 13 years, while the defence argued for 7 1/2 years minus credit for time already served.
The trial heard Harnett tried to stop the SUV after he noticed its licence plate didn’t match its registration.
The driver testified during his trial that he was scared when Harnett and another officer approached the SUV, and he saw Harnett put a hand on his gun.
Court heard the SUV took off with the officer holding onto the wheel, trying to get the driver to stop.
Loparco addressed both families after passing the sentence.
"I know that when everyone walks out of this courtroom what will remain is the heavy burden that you will continue to carry … along with the whole community … in grieving the death of Sgt. Harnett," she said.
"Your life has been forever altered."
Loparco also addressed the mother of the accused, first in French then in English.
"I would like to take a moment to acknowledge the incredible support you have given your son," she said.
"As one mother to another, I want you to know that it is your support that will make a difference in your son's life."
Crown prosecutor Mike Ewenson saidoutside court that he was satisfied to get the sentence he asked for.
"It's always difficult to use the word pleased, because this case is about the loss of a really respected officer and a really loved family member," he said.
"It's always in the back of your mind in, no matter what number you get, the justice system can't bring the life back."
A passenger in the SUV, Amir Abdulrahman, pleaded guilty to manslaughter in 2021 and was sentenced to five years in prison.
He was granted day parole earlier this year.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 27, 2023.
Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press