EDMONTON — A man convicted of attacking an Edmonton police officer and then running down four pedestrians with a U-Haul van has been sentenced to a total of 28 years in prison.
Abdulahi Hasan Sharif, 32, was handed 18 years for striking Const. Mike Chernyk with a car before stabbing him multiple times outside a football game in September 2017.
“It was a miracle that Const. Chernyk was not killed or seriously injured, but the lack of serious injury was a function of chance and in no way mitigates the gravity of what occurred,” Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Paul Belzil said Friday as he delivered the sentence.
“The facts in this case are unique and extraordinary.”
Chernyk testified during the trial that he was on traffic duty outside an Edmonton Eskimos game when he was struck by a car. He next remembered a man on top of him, stabbing him in the head with a knife.
The man then ran away and, a few hours later, police pulled over a U-Haul van at a checkpoint. The van sped off and, as it was being pursued by police, hit the pedestrians in the city’s downtown.
Sharif was also sentenced to 10 years for fleeing from the police and running down the pedestrians.
“The criminal flight from police turned into a criminal rampage, presenting the police with a dangerous and dynamic situation,” said Belzil. “The four civilian pedestrians became targets of opportunity.”
Sharif was convicted by a jury in October on the charges that included five counts of attempted murder, criminal flight causing bodily harm and dangerous driving.
He was not represented by a lawyer at trial, did not testify or call any witnesses and did not make any sentencing submissions.
Belzil noted that Sharif was given the opportunity to address court and never did so.
“There is no evidence that he is remorseful for his attack,” said the judge.
Crown prosecutors had argued that Sharif deserves a maximum life sentence for the targeted attack on the officer, and 20 years to be served at the same time for fleeing from police and trying to kill the pedestrians.
Outside court, they said it was an incredibly difficult case for everyone.
“We continue to wish the best to the victims and their families, and we hope that the City of Edmonton as a whole can heal from these events,” said Crown prosecutor Elizabeth Wheaton.
She said the judge came to a thoughtful, reasoned decision.
“Our primary concern in cases like these is the protection of the public in the future as well as general deterrence,” said Wheaton.
Her colleague, Chief Crown prosecutor Shelley Bykewich, said they expected Sharif would get a life sentence for the attack on the police officer.
Edmonton Police Chief Dale McFee, who read a community impact statement Thursday, said he has mixed emotions about the sentence.
“I feel like we’ve been heard but I see the victims and I see what impact this had on our city and my police service and you are always going to wonder if it’s enough,” he said outside court Friday. “Things like this aren’t something we as a city or a country can accept.”
Supt. Stacey Talbot, who’s in charge of the RCMP’s integrated national security enforcement team in Alberta, said police still believe it was a terrorist attack.
“Based on the evidence that was gathered and in consultation with our prosecutorial partners, it was decided that in the best interest of the administration of justice that attempted murder and the additional charges would be laid,” she said.
Talbot, who confirmed an ISIS flag was found in Sharif’s car, declined to provide any further details about that investigation pending an appeal.
Either side can appeal in the next 30 days.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Dec. 13, 2019.
Colette Derworiz, The Canadian Press