Po­lice of­fi­cer de­scribes stop­ping U-haul truck be­fore po­lice chase be­gan

Edmonton Sun - - NEWS - JONNY Wake­field @jon­ny­wake­field

A newly minted po­lice of­fi­cer whose car was among the first to be­gin pursuit of a speed­ing U-haul on Sept. 30, 2017, tes­ti­fied he and his su­pe­rior wor­ried there might be “some sort of de­vice” in­side the truck.

Const. Brodie Quen­neville Thorpe and Sgt. Roy Paulino were in the city’s south­west when they heard a call over the po­lice ra­dio about an of­fi­cer in trou­ble.

They learned Const. Mike Ch­ernyk had been struck by a car and at­tacked by a knife-wield­ing as­sailant while man­ning a traf­fic stop out­side Com­mon­wealth Sta­dium.

Thorpe had been an of­fi­cer for just eight days at the time he and Paulino as­sisted in the search. They set up a check­point at 112 Av­enue and Wayne Gret­zky Drive, hop­ing to find the sus­pect.

When a U-haul truck ap­proached the stop, Thorpe shined his flash­light in and saw the oc­cu­pant had a bruise on his fore­head.

“Know­ing that a car was used in the ini­tial at­tack, I be­lieved it may be an in­jury from an airbag,” he tes­ti­fied. Paulino spoke to the driver and ex­am­ined his li­cence be­fore the truck sped off.

Ab­du­lahi Hasan Sharif’s trial en­tered its fifth day Tues­day. The 32-year-old is charged with 11 of­fences: five counts of at­tempted mur­der, four counts of flight from a po­lice of­fi­cer caus­ing bod­ily harm, ag­gra­vated as­sault and dan­ger­ous driv­ing.

Thorpe’s tes­ti­mony sheds light on the start of the po­lice pursuit, which grew to dozens of ve­hi­cles by the time the truck was stopped.

Thorpe said he and Paulino were in south­west Ed­mon­ton when they heard Ch­ernyk’s of­fi­cer-down call. They drove to 112 Av­enue and Wayne Gret­zky Drive, re­stricted traf­fic to one lane and set up a check­point.

Thorpe flagged over the U-haul just af­ter 11:30 p.m. He waved his sergeant over, who ap­proached the driver just as he was open­ing the truck’s door. Paulino tes­ti­fied the man ap­peared “clammy” and had a red mark on his up­per left fore­head slightly larger than a golf­ball.

They checked his li­cence, which matched the name of their sus­pect.

“I told him (Thorpe) ‘This is our guy,’ but he did not hear me as he was still deal­ing with the traf­fic,” Paulino said. Sud­denly, the U-haul gunned its en­gine and fled south. Paulino got be­hind the wheel with Thorpe in the pas­sen­ger seat and “ac­cel­er­ated as hard as I could onto Wayne Gret­zky.”

“A num­ber of things (went though my mind),” Thorpe tes­ti­fied. “We were un­sure what was in­side the ve­hi­cle ... at first we be­lieved there may be some sort of de­vice in­side the ve­hi­cle which could have gone off at any­time.”

The pursuit went down Wayne Gret­zky Drive be­fore turn­ing west on 106 Av­enue. It con­tin­ued into the river val­ley, across the Daw­son Bridge, and up 95 Street, where the ve­hi­cle ran a red light turn­ing onto Jasper Av­enue.

Paulino said it was a busy night on Jasper Av­enue. The chase went as far west as 109 Street, where the truck turned north then im­me­di­ately into an al­ley­way by The Pint, where it struck two pedes­tri­ans.

Paulino and Thorpe tes­ti­fied the ve­hi­cle ran red lights and en­tered the on­com­ing lane to avoid traf­fic con­ges­tion. Two more pedes­tri­ans were hit near Au­dreys Books on 107 Street.

A com­man­der told of­fi­cers by ra­dio to dis­able the U-haul “by all means nec­es­sary.” A tac­ti­cal unit pickup truck cut in front of Paulino and Thorpe’s car and knocked over the U-haul near the Ma­trix Ho­tel.

Po­lice tossed a flash­bang, smashed the U-haul’s wind­shield. Paulino said he was the one who ul­ti­mately hauled the man out of the wind­shield.

The two were later tasked with bring­ing the sus­pect to Ed­mon­ton po­lice head­quar­ters, where they ar­rived just be­fore mid­night.

“He didn’t say any­thing,” Thorpe said. “He just sat there un­til we ar­rived at head­quar­ters.”

Sharif, who is self-rep­re­sented, de­clined to cross-ex­am­ine ei­ther wit­ness.

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