The Hamilton Spectator

‘I just wish it didn’t happen’

Man accused of running over police officer apologizes in court


A man accused of running over a Toronto police officer nearly three years ago offered a tearful apology to the man’s family in court Thursday, saying he didn’t mean to hurt the officer and wished he could bring him back.

Umar Zameer — who testified he thought his family was about to be robbed at the time — told a packed courtroom he cannot stop thinking about the day Det. Const. Jeffrey Northrup died, and how things would have played out differentl­y if he and his family had returned to their car just a few minutes earlier or later.

“I just wish it didn’t happen,” he said.

Zameer, a father of three, said he understand­s the father-son bond, and can’t imagine the grief felt by Northrup’s children.

Zameer has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in Northrup’s death. The officer died after he was hit by a vehicle in an undergroun­d parking garage on July 2, 2021.

Court has previously heard that Northrup and his partner — both dressed in plain clothes — were investigat­ing a stabbing when they went into the garage underneath Toronto City Hall. Zameer was not involved in the stabbing.

Crown prosecutor­s allege Zameer chose to make a series of manoeuvres with his car that caused Northrup’s death, but the defence says the officer’s death was a tragic accident.

Defence lawyers say neither Zameer nor his wife — who was eight months pregnant at the time — knew that the people who approached them in the largely empty parking garage were police officers. Their two-year-old son was also with them at the time.

On the stand Thursday, Zameer described getting in the family’s BMW and seeing an unknown man and a woman rush toward the car.

Zameer said the pair didn’t say anything, nor did he see anything in their hands. “They did not say ‘police,’’’ he noted. As they approached, the woman pointed at the hood, and Zameer said he assumed she was asking him to turn off the engine.

Immediatel­y, the pair started banging on the car, causing Zameer’s son to start crying, he said. Zameer said he wanted to get out of there, so he drove forward into the empty parking spot in front, heading toward the laneway.

He later noticed going over what he thought was a speed bump, he said. Zameer described feeling “horrified” when he later learned that what he thought was a speed bump had in fact been a man — and a police officer.

In cross-examining Zameer, Crown prosecutor Karen Simone suggested Zameer saw the badge worn by Northrup’s partner, Det. Const. Lisa Forbes, and that both officers identified themselves as police as they approached the car.

 ?? ?? Umar Zameer
Umar Zameer

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada