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Teen driver who killed Calgary police officer can now be identified

The Calgary teenage driver who killed Sgt. Andrew Harnett can now be identified. He is Al Azan Shah Muhammad, and according to his passenger, the motive to flee the traffic stop was because there were drugs in the vehicle that Muhammed feared would be discovered.

Al Azan Shah Muhammad was 17 when he took off during a traffic stop, killing Sgt. Andrew Harnett

A man with curly hair looks at the camera.

The teenage driver who killed Calgary police Sgt. Andrew Harnett can now be identified. He is Al Azan Shah Muhammad.

According to his passenger, the motive to flee the traffic stop was because there were drugs in the vehicle, which Muhammad feared would be discovered.

Muhammad was 17 years old at the time of the crime so a publication ban protected his identity under the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA).

Originally charged with first-degree murder, Muhammad was convicted of manslaughter after a trial.

In September, Muhammad — now 20 years old — was sentenced as an adult to 12 years in prison.

The adult sentence meant the media would be allowed to identify Muhammad, but Justice Anna Loparco extended the YCJA ban to cover the 30-day appeal period.

That period expired on Friday. The province's top court confirmed Monday that an appeal has not been filed.

3 people in SUV

On New Year's Eve 2020, Muhammad was 11 days from his 18th birthday.

That night, Muhammad, his front-seat passenger, Amir Abdulrahman, and a third man in the back seat were headed to a New Year's Eve house party.

Muhammad was driving an Infinity SUV at the time but didn't have his licence on him.

He also didn't have his lights on.

Harnett pulled over the SUV and, after discovering Muhammad didn't have his licence, collected identification from Abdulrahman, who the officer soon discovered was wanted on warrants.

'Illegal drugs in the vehicle'

The traffic stop took about 30 minutes. Soon after it started, two officers arrived to provide Harnett with backup since the sergeant was working alone.

After the vehicle was pulled over, Muhammad told his passengers there were drugs in the car, according to a statement made by Abdulrahman after he was arrested.

"[Abdulrahman] maintains that the driver revealed the presence of illegal drugs in the vehicle after the vehicle had been pulled over by the police," wrote Justice David Gates in his decision to deny bail to Abdulrahman.

"Though he was previously aware that the driver had recent involvement in serious drug trafficking activities, the applicant claims he had no prior knowledge that there were drugs inside the vehicle that evening."

Muhammad fled

Abdulrahman told authorities that Muhammad expressed concern that police would search the vehicle and discover the hidden drugs, which would lead to his arrest, according to a summary of Abdulrahman's version of events, included in Gates's decision.

Meanwhile, the three officers made a plan for Harnett to ticket Muhammad while his colleagues arrested the passenger.

As Harnett stood at the driver's side window to present the two traffic tickets, Muhammad took off with the officer clinging to the side.

Though the presence of drugs was not brought up at trial, Loparco found Muhammad fled the scene in order to avoid police discovering something "that might attract serious legal consequences."

Body-worn cameras

Body-worn footage from all three officers was played at Muhammad's trial.

It showed Const. Josh Desroches and Const. Adam Osmond sprint after the fleeing SUV before turning back to get in their police car.

In the meantime, Muhammad was trying to push Harnett off the side of the vehicle as he sped away, reaching speeds of up to 100 km/h.

Harnett was dragged for about 400 metres before he lost his grip and fell into the path of an oncoming car.

Muhammad fled the scene.

Muhammad turned himself in

The next day, both Muhammad and Abdulrahman turned themselves in.

At the time, Muhammad had moved out of his family home and was living with his girlfriend.

Those were factors considered by Justice Loparco in deciding to sentence Muhammad as an adult.

Loparco also ruled that the three-year maximum sentence for a youth convicted of manslaughter would not be sufficient to hold Muhammad accountable.

Muhammad was handed a 12-year sentence in September but was given four-years credit for the time he'd already served.

Abdulrahman pleaded guilty to manslaughter in 2021 and was sentenced to five years in prison.

In May, he was granted day parole.

Harnett left behind a pregnant spouse, who was left to raise the couple's son alone.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Meghan Grant

CBC Calgary crime reporter

Meghan Grant is a justice affairs reporter. She has been covering courts, crime and stories of police accountability in southern Alberta for more than a decade. Send Meghan a story tip at meghan.grant@cbc.ca or follow her on Twitter.

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Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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