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Bail hearing held for 19-year-old charged in officer's death

The Calgary Courts Centre in Calgary, Alta., Monday, March 11, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

CALGARY (660 NEWS) — One of the men accused in the death of Calgary police Sergeant Andrew Harnett was in court for a bail hearing on Friday.

Amir Abdulrahman, 19, is facing charges of first-degree murder after Harnett was killed while responding to a traffic stop on New Year’s Eve.

READ MORE: Accused passenger in hit-and-run death of Calgary police officer seeks bail

Harnett had stopped an SUV outside a gas station on Falconridge Dr. N.E. when the vehicle fled the scene, and the events that followed led to the death of the 12-year veteran of the service.

The 37-year-old’s death generated an outpouring of support from around Calgary and the wider police community, as he also leaves behind a wife and unborn child.

Abdulrahman is one of two people charged in the case, and police say he was the passenger in the vehicle at the time. The other suspect, who was 17-years-old at the time and therefore cannot be named, is also facing a charge of first-degree murder and his bail was denied last month.

READ MORE: Bail denied for Calgary teen accused in officer’s death

Most of the details heard in court on Friday are protected under a publication ban, as the defence sought to have him released on bail while the prosecution argued for him to remain in custody until trial.

Supporters for Abdulrahman were in the courtroom, as well as several police officers.

The judge reserved his decision, and his conclusion will be announced at a later date.

Abdulrahman’s defence lawyer, Balfour Der, said his client would have to abide by strict conditions if he does receive bail.

“The bail application is being made here because we believe that there is grounds in the Criminal Code by which this young man should be released. In other words, the Criminal Code would suggest under these circumstances that he should be released,” Der said.

“If this young man is released, it would be under conditions that are very, very strict. That would no doubt include him being in constant presence of one of his parents, house arrest, it would be terms like that should he be released.”

The Crown prosecution, led by Michael Ewenson, would also seek a direct indictment if bail is denied. That would cancel out the need for preliminary hearings and save some time by expediting the legal process.

Der said so much of the evidence is based on videos from police officers at the scene, so there is no need to hear from many witnesses. Police, however, are also still looking for a witness who was seated in the back of the vehicle at the time of the incident.

READ MORE: Police searching for witness in hit-and-run death of Calgary police officer

Due to the fact the case is extremely high profile, Der said that it can be difficult to manage a situation like this.

“It’s hard sometimes to eliminate the human aspect from the cases, but really it’s sort of designed that we don’t get bogged down by the human part of it,” Der said.

“Clearly, the public has an interest in knowing about cases like this, like for instance this case that involves the death of a police officer. Very sad circumstances. But these courts are not the courts of public opinion, they’re law courts and we operate under strict legal rules because that’s the only way it will work. And if the rules say the young man should be released, then he should be released. Regardless of public opinion.”

Der said that he felt the hearing went well and made every argument he felt should be made, and credited Ewenson for presenting his case effectively as well.