As one of her partner's suspected killers pleads guilty, the widow of a Calgary police officer speaks of'stolen' joy.
Sgt. Andrew Harnett's killer, Amir Abdulrahman, has pled guilty to manslaughter.
Sgt. Andrew Harnett kissed his pregnant wife goodbye on New Year's Eve, called his mother on his way to work, then texted his brother to inform him that after ejecting a group of loiterers from a bank lobby, he had allowed them to finish their beers outside.
Harnett was killed that night when an SUV sped away from a traffic check — he clung to the fleeing vehicle's side for more than 400 metres before losing his grasp and rolling into the path of an approaching car.
Initially charged with first-degree murder, Amir Abdulrahman — the passenger in the fleeing SUV — pleaded guilty to manslaughter on Wednesday, confessing he took the wheel twice to assist police in evading arrest.
Chelsea Goedhart, Harnett's widow, made a dramatic victim impact statement in which she described living with "soul-crushing anguish" during her pregnancy and parenthood without her partner.
"The joy of my pregnancy was taken from me," Goedhart explained. "Parenting without Andrew is nearly devastating."
"My son's innocence was snatched from him prior to his birth."
Abdulrahman, 20, and another male who cannot be identified because he was under the age of 18 at the time were both charged with first-degree murder. The youth's trial is scheduled to begin Jan. 31, just days after Abdulrahman's sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 28.
The Harnett family says that while an apology is appreciated, it is insufficient for forgiveness.
After pleading guilty to manslaughter in the death of Sgt. Andrew Harnett, Amir Abdulrahman apologized in court. His lawyer asserts that it demonstrates Abdulrahman's repentance, while the Harnett family maintains that he did not do enough to avert the events that led to the tragedy. 2:42
Prosecutor Mike Ewenson has requested an eight- to nine-year term from Court of Queen's Bench Justice Robert Hall, saying Abdulrahman sat "literally within reach" of the officer but "did nothing" to assist.
Then came possibly his most heinous crime, as Ewenson put it.
'Acted in cold self-interest' "[Abdulrahman] abandoned Sgt. Harnett on the cold, hard pavement of Falconridge Drive," Ewenson stated during his sentencing arguments, referring to the seconds following the officer's fling into the lane of oncoming traffic.
"He acted coldly in his own self-interest, without a shred of sympathy when the stakes were high."
Balfour Der, the defendant's attorney, urged the judge to impose a two-year sentence plus two years probation.
Der accepted the "devastating loss," but contended that his client, who was 19 at the time of his detention, "lost who he is and where he came from."
The details of the murder are derived from an agreed-upon summary of facts.
Abdulrahman, Der added, is very sorry and intends to live a law-abiding life going forward after "serious and sober reflection" in jail awaiting trial.
It is unknown whether Hall will make a decision Wednesday or will reserve.
Harnett was a decorated officer during his 12-year tenure with the Calgary Police Service, earning two Chief's Awards for lifesaving.
When the body-worn camera videos of the three cops were aired during the court hearing, Harnett's mother and widow exited the courtroom.
The details of the murder are contained in an agreed statement of facts made by Ewenson and defense attorney Balfour Der.
The halt in traffic
Abdulrahman and his 17-year-old companion, who was driving an Infiniti, were on their way to a party last New Year's Eve when Harnett pulled them up for not having their vehicle's lights on.
The vehicle pulled into a Petro-Canada convenience store on Falconridge in the city's northeast section.
When Harnett spoke with the driver, he discovered the adolescent only possessed a learner's permit.
The teenager informed the officer that his "friend," Abdulrahman, possessed a valid driver's license.
Harnett snatched the passenger's driver's license and the SUV's vehicle identifying number (VIN).
He also observed a third person, a passenger, in the vehicle's back seat. That individual remains unidentified.
Officers arrive to assist.
Two additional police — Const. Deroches and Const. Osmond — heard the traffic stop and arrived minutes later, despite the fact that Harnett worked alone.
Harnett uncovered warrants for Abdulrahman's arrest when he verified the passenger's identification.
The officers devised a strategy. Harnett was to serve the motorist with traffic fines, while Desroches was to arrest Abdulrahman.
Abdulrahman opened his door as Deroches came but remained still while the police addressed him.
"Amir, you have an exceptional... hey, hey, huh," Deroches exclaimed as the SUV began to accelerate.
'Put the vehicle to a halt'
Harnett was standing on the driver's side of the door when he opened it "in an attempt to prevent the driver from fleeing the scene," according to the accepted statement of facts.
As he clung to the fleeing SUV, Harnett began yelling "stop the car" and "stop the f—king vehicle."
The vehicle accelerated away but became trapped on a snow-covered embankment in the parking lot.
"Until the vehicle came to a stop on the berm, there is no evidence that the accused participated in operating the vehicle, and the prosecution has no evidence to allege the decision-making process that resulted in the driver fleeing," the agreed statement of facts states.
Harnett's body-worn camera footage then showed someone shouting "go, go, go!" from the car.
Harnett's grip slackens
Abdulrahman reached over and grabbed the steering wheel at that point. The SUV accelerated once more.
As they fled, Abdulrahman took the wheel once more while the driver forced his door open with his feet and hands in what the accepted statement of facts described as a "clear attempt to displace Sgt. Harnett into the roadway."
Although the teen was unsuccessful, Harnett lost his grip and plummeted from the vehicle's side moments later.
Harnett rolled into the other lane and was collided with by an oncoming vehicle.
In the death of a Calgary police officer, a man pleads guilty to manslaughter.
Amir Abdulrahman pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the killing of Calgary police officer Sgt. Andrew Harnett on New Year's Eve after being dragged alongside a vehicle and pushed into oncoming traffic following a routine arrest. 1:47
The driver of that automobile instantly came to a halt and attempted to rescue Harnett alongside two additional officers who had caught up.
According to the statement of facts, "there was nothing the civilian motorist could have done to avoid the incident."
Along with providing first assistance, Osmond and Deroches consoled the driver who struck Harnett.
Officers called to assist with the traffic stop attempted to save Harnett's life, but his injuries were too severe. He died shortly afterwards in hospital.
'I will always love you'
Valerie Harnett stood in the courtroom where her son's attacker had pleaded guilty minutes earlier, less than a year after his death. She said through tears that she and Andrew both adored the children's book I'll Love You Forever, penned by Guelph, Ont., author Robert Munsch.
Valerie rewrote one of the book's famous lines for her son in her victim impact statement: "I love you forever, and as long as I'm here, I'll be your very proud mother," she said.
Valerie, on the other hand, reserved her parting remarks for Abdulrahman.
"Make more informed and prudent choices," she advised. "I wish you the best of luck on your travels."
Jason Harnett, Harnett's brother, mirrored this sentiment.
"There is still hope for you and your family," Jason Harnett stated.
"I hope you begin today to make positive changes in your life. Do not squander it."