Concerns over officer testimony leads to review of Toronto cops in death of officer from Brampton


Published April 23, 2024 at 11:58 am

Concerns over officer testimony leads to review of Toronto cops in death of officer from Brampton
Det. Const. Jeffrey Northrup was hit by a car and died on July 2, 2021.

Toronto’s top cop says the force needs an “independent review” after a judge raised questions about officer testimony during the trial of a Brampton man cleared of intentionally running down a police officer.

The Toronto Police Service said on Tuesday that Chief Myron Demkiw has asked the OPP to run an independent review “of all aspects of plainclothes policing, including equipment and procedures for officer and public safety.”

The move comes after Umar Zameer was found not guilty on Sunday of first-degree murder in the 2021 death of TPS Det. Const. Jeffrey Northrup.

Police alleged Zameer ran down Northrup with intent to kill, but Superior Court Justice Anne Molloy said the testimony of officers didn’t match the physical evidence, even telling jurors to watch out for possible collusion.

Molloy addressed Zameer briefly before exiting the courtroom, offering her “deepest apologies for what you’ve been through.”

Demkiw said the review is being spurred by the judge’s comments “with respect to officer testimony, conduct, procedures, practices, and training.”

Northrup was working as a plainclothes officer when he was fatally struck by Zameer, and the chief has also ordered “a full internal review” of its plainclothes officers “including equipment and procedures for officer and public safety.”

“As I have done my whole career, I respect the judicial process and I accept the decision of the jury,” Demkiw said in a statement. “Perhaps closure in a tragic event of this magnitude will come with time. As Chief, I was acknowledging the emotions many of us were feeling, while struggling with the death of a fellow officer, but of course, closure can never come at the expense of justice.”

That Zameer ran over Northrup and caused his death was not disputed during the trial, but the case centred on whether Zameer meant to hit Northrup — or even knew it happened — and whether he knew Northrup and his partner were police officers.

Daniel Brown, a defence lawyer and former president of the Criminal Lawyers’ Association, says the case appeared to be a “political prosecution,” noting several politicians – including Ontario Premier Doug Ford – publicly condemned Zameer before the case even went to trial.

Brown said the fact that the trial judge, Ontario Superior Court Justice Anne Molloy, apologized to Zameer after the jury delivered its verdict Sunday is “unusual” and significant.

The Federation of Ontario Law Associations has also expressed concerns over the case, with Chair Douglas W. Judson calling the trial “a three-year witch hunt.”

“Politicians have increasingly vilified judges, justices of the peace, and defence counsel as part of a false narrative and moral panic about crime on our streets,” Judson said in a statement. “To the contrary, the Zameer case underscores the fundamental role of an independent judiciary and effective legal advocates in achieving a just outcome.”

– With files from The Canadian Press

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