A driver who accidentally ran over a policeman broke down in tears at the first-degree murder trial Tuesday of the man accused in the officer’s hit-and-run death.
Sgt. Andrew Harnett of the Calgary Police Service had pulled over an SUV on Dec. 31, 2020, to check its registration. Court has heard the officer was first dragged by the fleeing vehicle, then fell into the path of an oncoming car. He later died in hospital.
The suspect, who was 17 at the time, cannot be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act. The now 19-year-old offered to plead guilty to manslaughter when his trial started Monday, but the Crown chose to proceed on the murder charge.
Mackson Ogunsanya testified he was driving that night when he saw a speeding SUV and something else coming toward him.
“I saw a black object. At first, I thought they threw something toward me. Then I thought I hit the object,” he told court.
Ogunsanya said he immediately stopped his car.
“That’s when I realized I had hit a cop. I was shaking. How could this happen? I have no idea,” he said.
Ogunsanya broke down during his testimony.
He said he managed to dial 911 but two police officers were already at the scene. One was on a phone calling an ambulance and the other was attending to Harnett.
“He’s not moving. He’s not speaking,” said Ogunsanya.
“I told the cops, ‘I’m the one that hit the cop.’ The cops told me to sit inside my car. I started crying because I believed I killed someone.”
A collision reconstructionist has already testified that there was nothing Ogunsanya could have done to avoid striking Harnett, because the SUV was going 97 km/h before the officer fell onto the road.
“My analysis of all the evidence is the driver of the Toyota was in a situation where he could not have avoided striking Sgt. Harnett when he came towards him,” Const. Dennis Vink testified.
Bus driver Hardeep Dhaliwal witnessed a struggle between Harnett and the SUV’s driver.
“I started seeing one of the vehicles moving that the police had stopped, and a police officer was kind of struggling on the driver’s side. And then as soon as I saw that, I just stopped on the side, thinking it might hit me,” said Dhaliwal.
“The officer was still struggling on the side of the driver’s side and trying to hold on. Then I saw in my rear-view, one of the doors opened on the driver’s side and I couldn’t see the officer anymore.”
Prosecutor Mike Ewenson told court he intends to call the two officers who were with Harnett as his final witnesses. He said he expects the prosecution’s case to wrap up Wednesday.
A passenger in the SUV, 20-year-old Amir Abdulrahmen, earlier pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to five years in prison.
—Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press