'Heartbreaking': Widow of Calgary officer killed in hit-and-run says son is a victim
CALGARY — The wife of the Calgary police officer who died after he was dragged by a fleeing SUV told a sentencing hearing Thursday that her husband's death was no accident.
Chelsea Goedhart told the young man convicted of manslaughter for the death of Sgt. Andrew Harnett that her life has been destroyed and their son will never know his father.
"I will forever be left with the heartbreaking knowledge of Andrew's last moments in this life and the horrific way in which he was killed while selflessly serving his community," said Goedhart, wiping away tears.
"It takes an incredibly morally inept person to watch someone fight for their life, throw them into oncoming traffic and leave them dying in the road. To be clear, this was no accident."
The driver of the SUV, who cannot be identified because he was 17 at the time, told his first-degree murder trial that he was frightened when Harnett and another officer approached the vehicle during a traffic stop and he saw Harnett put his hand on his gun.
The offender took off with Harnett holding on and demanding that he stop the vehicle.
Harnett was dragged by the SUV, fell into the path of an oncoming car. He died in hospital on Dec. 31, 2020.
Court of King's Bench Justice Anna Loparco found the driver guilty of manslaughter.
Goedhart, who was pregnant when Harnett died, said their toddler son has a photo of his father in his room and wishes him good night every night.
She stopped as she was leaving the witness stand and produced a photo of her husband.
"This picture is all my son has left of his dad. It's something we should all remember. He will never get to meet Andrew because of what has happened."
The officer's mother, Valerie Harnett, said every member of the family is a victim, with no end to their pain in sight. She said she spoke to him as he was heading to work that night, wishing him Happy New Year and telling him "I love you always and forever."
"There is a hole where Andrew should be. It has and is a battle to remain strong and steadfast. I no longer feel safe," she told the court.
"I'm asking for justice and accountability for Andrew. His life mattered. Andrew made one simple request — stop the car. Had this simple request been complied to, none of us would be here today. My son would be alive."
Jason Harnett said he's still not recovered from losing his brother and best friend.
"I've become an angry, sad, lonely, misguided and suspicious soul at times. I've lost my focus. I feel robbed," he said.
Since Andrew Harnett's death, 11 more officers have died on duty — most violently — including four this year, his brother added.
"People are tired of this," he said.
"Every time another police officer is killed in this country, we relive our own horror again and again and we feel the immense pain and sorrow of those impacted. This is the predicament the defendant has put us all in."
Keegan Metz, a former colleague and friend, addressed the offender directly as "the man and not the boy".
"Your actions that New Year's Eve have forever changed the lives of everyone who was fortunate enough to know Andrew," Metz said.
"Your arrogant and strategic actions in fleeing from the police robbed us of Andrew, while simultaneously snatching him from our lives like a thief. Regardless of how long your imprisonment is, if you do not accept accountability and own up to your actions, you will be a prisoner forever, a prisoner within yourself."
The Crown wants the offender given an adult sentence, which the judge is scheduled to decide on May 10.
The offender's lawyer is expected to make his arguments on Friday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 27, 2023.
Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press