Zameer, wife speak of relief and hope since acquittal

In a one-on-one interview, Umar Zameer and his wife speak to Faiza Amin about the last three years awaiting trial and how life has been since the not guilty verdict.

By Meredith Bond and Faiza Amin

Umar Zameer spent nearly three years waiting for a call that the charges against him in the death of Det. Const. Jeffrey Northrup would be dropped, slowly losing hope that day would come.

But on Sunday, he said the truth was finally revealed when he was found not guilty of first degree murder in Const. Northrup’s death.

In a one-on-one interview with CityNews, Zameer, who is an accountant, and his wife Aaida Shaikh spoke over how they have regained their hope in the past three days since the verdict was read.

“It was like all those three years, those haunting years, were going away in that moment and especially the words from the judge. That gave us hope and relief,” shared Zameer.

Watch the full interview with Umar Zameer and Aaida Shaikh:

The jury took four days to deliver their verdict. The facts that Zameer ran over Northrup and caused his death were not in dispute. Rather, the case centered on whether Zameer meant to hit Northrup – or even knew it happened – and whether he knew Northrup and his partner, who were in plain clothes, were police officers.

When reflecting on the three years he spent waiting for trial, the hardest part, Zameer said, was missing the birth of his second child as he was still in police custody at the time.

“I remember I was on the phone [with her] when she was about to deliver. I was able to talk to her and she was telling me she’s all alone at the hospital,” shared Zameer. “It was not easy.”

Shaikh was eight months pregnant when the incident happened. The couple has since had their third child.

The impact of the incident and trial has also stretched to their five-year-old son, who was in the vehicle with them at the time. “That night for him actually turned out to be a tragic, tragic night.”

“Closer to when the incident happened, it was more frequent. He was speaking about a black car and “where’s baba? Don’t let them take baba,” Shaikh shared, referring to Zameer. “I didn’t know what to say.”

Now, Zameer said the sorrow he feels for Const. Northrup’s family is ever present. “We felt so horrible to this day … Whenever I see [my son] smiling, whenever I hug him, I always think about the three kids who do not have their father anymore.”

Zameer reacts to review request by Toronto police

Toronto police have asked Ontario Provincial Police to conduct an independent review into the case after “adverse comments” made by the judge presiding over the trial. Demkiw has also ordered a full internal review of all aspects of plainclothes policing.

Zameer said he hopes everyone would have learned something from this incident. “This shouldn’t be a need for any review or anything.”

In her final instructions, Ontario Superior Court Justice Anne Molloy told jurors they had to consider the possibility the three officers who witnessed the incident had colluded.

Three police officers, including Const. Northrup’s partner, provided eyewitness testimony claiming that the veteran detective was standing with his hands up the moment before he was fatally struck.

Molloy also said there was no evidence to fully support the Crown’s theory that Const. Northrup was hit while standing out of view of a security camera.

Shaikh said while she’s happy the truth has finally been revealed, she still has feelings of betrayal over the narrative the police used shortly after Const. Northrup’s death, saying despite making her statement, Toronto police called the incident a “deliberate act.”

“When I gave my statement, I’m like, ‘This is what happened’ and I, at least, felt like I helped them understand what happened,” explained Shaikh. “But then when I go home and I find out on the news that it was the complete opposite and it was by the police themselves … I felt so betrayed. I thought they were going to help us.”

Zameer said because of this, he feared for the safety of Shaikh and his children every time they left the house. “I was scared and I was worried about when they will come back. We are always looking out of the windows if someone is there who is going to hurt us.”

The supportive messages they are getting now have been overwhelming. “People praying for us, they don’t know us. It’s so beautiful. They’re telling us their entire families are praying for us as they feel for us and it means a lot to us,” said Shaikh.

Zameer added on Tuesday, he was out with his family and a stranger came up to him and apologized.

As for whether they intend to pursue any action against Toronto police, Zameer said they haven’t had a chance to think about anything yet or speak with their lawyers.

“I know when I hug my kids, those hugs are without any burden anymore thinking of what could happen and I think I can just keep on hugging them for awhile. That’s just the future for now I’m thinking about.”

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