'This life without Andrew': Calgary officer's family speaks at manslaughter sentencing hearing

Sgt. Andrew Harnett was dragged for 400 metres before he was flung from a fleeing SUV on Dec. 31, 2020. (Strathmore Legion/Facebook - image credit)
Sgt. Andrew Harnett was dragged for 400 metres before he was flung from a fleeing SUV on Dec. 31, 2020. (Strathmore Legion/Facebook - image credit)

"I love you forever, be safe."

Those were the last words Valerie Harnett said to her youngest son, Calgary police Sgt. Andrew Harnett on New Year's Eve 2020.

Hours later, Harnett was killed in what his family has described as a "shocking" and "senseless" crime.

On Thursday, family members were given the chance to speak at the sentencing hearing for the now 20-year-old driver who took off after he was pulled over by Harnett, dragging the officer 400 metres before pushing him off the fleeing SUV into the path of oncoming traffic.

Submitted by Jason Harnett
Submitted by Jason Harnett

Originally charged with first-degree murder, the driver was convicted of manslaughter following a trial last year. Amir Abdulrahman, the passenger at the time of Harnett's death, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was handed a five-year sentence.

'A promotion to granny'

The driver cannot be named because on the night of the killing he was underage, just 11 days away from his 18th birthday.

Prosecutor Mike Ewenson argued the driver should be handed an 11- to 13-year adult sentence. If the judge agrees, the ban on his identity would be lifted.

"We have to live with the consequences of the decisions you made," said Chris Harnett, one of Andrew's two older brothers. "You must be held accountable."

The hearing will continue Friday with submissions from defence lawyer Zachary Al-Khatib. It will resume in May after the judge makes a ruling on whether the driver will be sentenced as an adult or youth.

Four members of Harnett's family — his mother, brothers and widow — delivered victim impact statements, each noting the greatest victim in Harnett's death is his young son.

"I was getting a promotion to granny," Valerie said of learning Christmas Day 2020 that she would become a grandmother.

That day, Harnett and partner Chelsea Goedhart began sharing the news that she was 15-weeks pregnant.

Six days later, he was dead.

'The pain is unimaginable'

Goedhart was left to navigate pregnancy alone, during the pandemic.

She gave birth alone.

And in caring for a newborn alone, Goedhart was "still in the soul crushing and disorienting waves of grief."

"This life without Andrew is relentlessly mentally and physically exhausting," said Goedhart.

Instead of experiencing "Andrew's big hugs" and bedtime stories, the boy will instead learn "the cruel realities of what a homicide and death is before any child ever should," said Goedhart.

"How will I tell my son that his dad is dead? That he was killed for no reason. The pain is unimaginable," she wrote.

The deadly night

Harnett was a decorated officer with two Chief's Awards for lifesaving during his 12-year career with the Calgary Police Service.

The night he was killed, Harnett pulled over an SUV because its lights weren't on.

Court exhibit
Court exhibit

He discovered the passenger, Amir Abdulrahman, was wanted on warrants. By then, backup had arrived and the three officers made a plan to execute an arrest.

Harnett was to serve the traffic tickets on the driver and Const. Josh Desroches would arrest Abdulrahman.

As Deroches approached the passenger, the SUV took off.

Body-worn footage

Harnett had been standing at the driver's side of the door and as he noticed the youth's hands turn the wheel, he opened the door trying to prevent the driver from fleeing the scene, according to facts from the passenger's guilty plea in December 2021.

As the SUV sped off, Harnett was clinging to the side. Body-worn camera footage from the officer shows him screaming for the vehicle to stop.

At one point, the SUV got stuck on a berm in a parking lot but the driver was able to take off a second time with Harnett still holding on to the vehicle as it reached speeds of up to 100 km/h.

While speeding along Falconridge Boulevard, Abdulrahman grabbed the wheel while the driver pushed the door open with his hands and feet in an attempt to get Harnett off the side of the SUV.

'Horrible end for an amazing person'

Moments later, Harnett lost his grip and fell into the path of an oncoming car.

The driver of that car immediately stopped and tried to save Harnett alongside the two other officers who had by then caught up.

The driver of the SUV sped away.

"He left Andrew to suffer and die on the side of a cold snowy Calgary street," said Jason Harnett.

"It's inhumane. It's evil. It's a horrible death and a horrible end for an amazing person."