CALGARY — A young man convicted of manslaughter in the hit-and-run death of a Calgary police officer will face an adult sentence, an Alberta judge ruled Wednesday.
Sgt. Andrew Harnett died after being dragged by an SUV, then falling into the path of an oncoming car on Dec. 31, 2020.
The offender, who is now 20, was days away from turning 18 when Harnett died and was driving the vehicle when it took off from a routine traffic stop with the officer holding on to the wheel and trying to get him to stop.
He testified during his trial that 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.
Court of King's Bench Justice Anna Loparco found the young man not guilty of first-degree murder but guilty of manslaughter last year.
The Crown wants the 20-year-old to serve between 11 and 13 years in prison.
Loparco said the offender had shown maturity, even when committing the offence, and was living on his own.
"I find that on the whole he demonstrated traits more aligned with an adult than a young person," Loparco said.
"He did not return to the family home following his flight from police. Rather, he went to his own suite and monitored the situation on social media. When he discovered Sgt. Harnett had died, he did not involve his family."
Loparco rejected defence arguments that the actions were largely impulsive and said the objective of the court is to hold the individual, who as the driver was taking a lead role, accountable.
"He reached speeds of 80 to 90 kilometres an hour. He also intentionally engaged in a variety of manoeuvres aimed at dislodging Sgt. Harnett from the car," Loparco told the court.
"The consequential harm done was immense. A man lost his life, a family lost a husband and soon-to-be father, brother and son. A wide circle lost a friend. Society lost a police officer who exemplified professional conduct."
Loparco said she doubted the genuineness of the young man's expressed remorse and added his recounting of the events "deflects blame and minimizes his role." She said he is also considered to be a high risk to reoffend.
The judge said although he may need counselling and support, that can't be offered with a three-year youth sentence.
"In my view, a maximum youth sentence, even without credit for any pretrial custody, would not be of sufficient length to hold (the offender) accountable for his offending behaviour," she said.
"This court shall, therefore, impose an adult sentence."
Loparco is to hear final arguments on sentencing from both lawyers May 31.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 10, 2023.
Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press