'Indescribable': Calgary officer killed in traffic stop leaves behind pregnant wife

·3 min read

CALGARY — A police officer killed while attempting a traffic stop last week was looking forward to becoming a father for the first time, his family said in a statement Monday.

Sgt. Andrew Harnett, who was 37, had pulled over an SUV in Calgary on New Year's Eve and was hit and dragged when the vehicle took off. He died about an hour later.

"The last few days have been indescribable and overwhelming. The outpouring of support you have shown us is helping to carry us through this difficult time," Hartnett's family said.

"It is also a reflection of how many people Andrew touched and the legacy of the loyalty and kindness he will leave behind."

Harnett leaves behind his wife, Chelsea, and an unborn child.

"Andrew and Chelsea were also expecting their first child together in the summer of 2021. Andrew couldn't have been more excited to be a loving and dedicated father and now a piece of his legacy will live on as part of the CPS family," the statement read.

It said Harnett knew the risks of the job but showed up every day because he was passionate about his role in the community.

"Andrew would have given everything for the police, and he did. He earned the respect of those that knew him, worked with him and of his community."

Harnett had been with the Calgary Police Service for 12 years and before that had served as a military police officer with the Canadian Forces.

A spokesman with the police said a memorial for Harnett was still being planned.

Also Monday, the two teens accused in the officer's death made their first court appearances while a memorial of flowers and balloons continued to grow at the site where he was killed. Blue ribbons were tied to trees, light standards, mailboxes and police cars.

A 17-year-old, who police believe was driving the SUV, and an alleged passenger, 19-year-old Amir Abdulrahman, listened by phone while their case came up in court.

Both are charged with first-degree murder. The Crown noted the most serious charge is automatic in deaths involving a police officer.

A bail hearing for the 17-year-old, who turns 18 next Monday, has been scheduled for Jan. 19. He cannot be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

After his arrest, he was put in 14-day isolation to help prevent the possible spread of COVID-19. He won't be able to attend court in person until that ends.

"The young person has a right to be present during the proceedings and I do have concerns respecting a telephone appearance," said Crown prosecutor Doug Taylor.

"The attorney general is obliged to put on the record that we are opposed to the young person's release."

Taylor said he would be calling a witness and showing a video during the bail hearing.

Defence lawyer Balfour Der, who will be representing Abdulrahman, asked the court to adjourn his client's matter until Feb. 4 so Der could review the file.

Abdulrahman is facing four other outstanding charges related to an assault last fall and failures to appear in court.

Der, who was previously a prosecutor, said he understands how strongly the community feels when a police officer is killed.

"It's always difficult in a case like this," Der said outside court.

"It's about me representing the interests of this young man, finding out what is there for evidence, and giving him the advice that he needs one way or another."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 4, 2021

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Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press