An honour guard marches at the funeral service for Calgary Police Service Sgt. Andrew Harnett in Calgary, Alta., Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

‘Hold tight. We’re here’: Constables recall helping Calgary officer after hit and run

‘Hold tight. We’re here’: Constables recall helping Calgary officer after hit and run

CALGARY — A police constable became emotional Wednesday as he described to a murder trial how he knelt down and comforted a fellow officer lying on a road after a car hit him following a hit and run.

Sgt. Andrew Harnett of the Calgary Police Service died in hospital on Dec. 31, 2020, after being dragged by a fleeing SUV and falling into the path of the car.

The suspect vehicle’s alleged driver, who was 17 at the time, is charged with first-degree murder. He cannot be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act and turned 19 in early January.

“We came around the bend quite quickly and immediately saw Sgt. Harnett in the roadway. We stopped the vehicle and I immediately ran to him,” Const. Josh Desroches recounted.

“I got down on the road with him. There were no overt, obvious injuries to tend to.”

Desroches said he was worried that Harnett might have injuries to his spine or neck, so he knelt down and held the injured man’s head.

“I just laid his head on my knees … and just talked to him. He appeared alert still. He was responding to my talking to him and telling him, ‘Don’t move. Hold tight. We’re here.’

“I just held … him and talked to him until I got some support.”

Desroches said Harnett’s breathing was extremely shallow and after a couple of minutes he appeared to be gasping for air. That’s when the constable discovered more trauma.

“It wasn’t until a minute or two being down with him that I realized that my gloves were completely soaked in his blood. It appears he had an injury to the back of his head.”

Desroches partner, Const. Christopher Osmond, described how the SUV sped away with Harnett holding on through the driver’s window.

“I drew my service pistol and … to the best of my recollection I remember yelling at the vehicle to stop,” Osmond testified.

He said he then considered whether discharging the gun would have any impact in stopping the vehicle.

“I reholstered my sidearm. I remember telling my partner not to shoot.”

They found Harnett on the road, lying on his back, and staring at the sky, he said.

Osmond said he spoke to the driver of the unrelated vehicle that had hit Harnett and described him as being in “a great amount of distress” and “very clearly in shock.”

Osmond and Desroches were the final two witnesses to be called by the Crown. The trial was to be adjourned to a later date for the defence to make its case.

A passenger in the SUV, 20-year-old Amir Abdulrahmen, pleaded guilty last month to a lesser charge of manslaughter and was sentenced to five years in prison.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 2, 2022.

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

Calgary