Deliberations continue in trial of man accused of killing Toronto cop

Deliberations in the trial of a man accused of fatally running over a Toronto police officer entered their fourth day on Sunday.

Umar Zameer has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the July 2021 death of Detective Constable Jeffrey Northrup.

Zameer, his pregnant wife and their two-year-old son were in downtown Toronto for Canada Day celebrations when they returned to the parking garage at Toronto City Hall just after midnight. Northrup and his partner, Sgt. Lisa Forbes, were in the garage investigating a stabbing. Both were in plain clothes at the time.

Zameer was not involved in the stabbing in any way, but earlier in the night he and his family had coincidentally walked past the victim.

Throughout the trial, Zameer’s defence lawyer maintained that his client didn’t know that Northrup and his partner were police officers and that Zameer and his wife thought they were being ambushed by criminals when the officers rushed towards them in the deserted underground parking lot.

Prosecutors allege Zameer drove directly at Northrup, who they say was standing at the time, and made deliberate choices to drive dangerously while there were people nearby.

The fact that Zameer ran over the officer was not in dispute, but the case centered on whether he intended to do it – or even knew that it happened – as well as whether he was aware that the people who approached his family were police officers.

Over the course of the last two days, the jury has come back with several questions including one about self-defence as the only justification for manslaughter. Justice Anne Molloy told jurors that it’s up to the Crown to prove beyond a reasonable doubt and disprove self-defence. Another question submitted by jurors on Sunday morning also dealt with a provision of the manslaughter charge.

Throughout the trial Justice Malloy repeatedly raised concerns over the prosecution’s changing theory of what happened that night, indicating she did not see how a jury could reach a guilty verdict on murder based on evidence presented in court.

During legal arguments not heard by the jury, Molloy on several occasions asked the Crown to lay out its narrative for how Umar Zameer came to hit Detective Constable Jeffrey Northrup with his car on July 2nd, 2021.

Prosecutors Michael Cantlon and Karen Simone raised new theories including one that suggests Northrup was “clearly visible” to Zameer when he was hit regardless of his position.

The theory is in dispute and was abandoned earlier this week, just days before lawyers were set to make their final arguments to the jury after Molloy said she was struggling to understand it.

Files from The Canadian Press were used in this report

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