WARMINGTON: Free-on-bail alleged cop-killer won’t stop run for slain officers

A plaque presentation for Const. Jeffrey Northrup is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday at the Ontario Police Memorial at Queen’s Park

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No matter what legal magic happens in a courtroom, Const. Jeff Northrup will not be granted freedom from his eternal death.

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But his alleged killer has gotten bail.

Certainly the judge didn’t realize what was planned for the next day — a plaque presentation organized in memory of the slain 52 Division officer Northrup. Already set up, nobody involved ever dreamed that Northrup’s alleged murderer could be in a position of freedom to perhaps drive by instead of being locked up in a jail cell awaiting due process.

Needless to say, an already sombre affair scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday at the Ontario Police Memorial at Queen’s Park has taken on a whole new meaning.

“It’s outrageous,” said Toronto Police Association president Jon Reid. “No one can believe it.”

From Premier Doug Ford to Mayor John Tory to Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown, there was bewilderment on the release of Umar Zameer, who is charged with first-degree murder in the July 2 incident that saw much-loved 55-year-old Northrup hit by a car in the underground parking garage at Toronto City Hall.

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The 30-year-old has been let out on bail while he awaits trial. Even though he’s ordered to be under house arrest and to wear an electronic ankle bracelet, with conditions that allow him to work or attend his lawyer’s office or medical appointments, it’s conceivable he could be in the vicinity of Queen’s Park where police officers are gathering in preparation for this year’s National Peace Officers’ Memorial Run.

“The ‘Run to Remember’ is a 460-km relay that makes its way through many communities between the start at the Ontario Police Memorial site in Toronto to the end at the National Memorial on Parliament Hill in Ottawa,” Peel Regional Police Det. Robert Hackenbrook tells me.

For the fifth year, Don Cherry is the run’s honorary chair. “I am proud to support the run and all police officers,” said Cherry. “They are the people who keep our society safe and I love them.”

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Don Cherry is the National Peace Officers’ Memorial Run honorary chair.
Don Cherry is the National Peace Officers’ Memorial Run honorary chair.

Ironically, Robert and I had been talking about how to tell this story in a way that could break through all of the smoke and fire emanating from the federal election and the pandemic when a judge made this unusual call, which offers a reminder of Canada’s flawed bail system. No one is denying the accused’s day in court. But with a first-degree murder charge, many are wondering what precedent this could set.

Regardless, the Run to Remember will proceed.

“The primary objective of the National Peace Officers’ Memorial ‘Run to Remember’ is to raise awareness and focus attention on the annual Police and Peace Officers’ Memorial Service,” said Hackenbrook. “The annual service is held on the last Sunday of September in Ottawa, with the run occurring over a three-day period immediately preceding it.”

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It all started with the Peel Police Pacer’s run in 2005.

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“Not only does the run raise awareness about the Memorial Service, it also gives peace officers and citizens along the route the opportunity to participate,” said Hackenbrook. “For the runners that participate in the three-day relay, it is their way of fulfilling that pledge, that promise, that they will not forget those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service of their community, their province, and their country.

“The long and sometimes gruelling hours of running allow the participants to reflect on the sacrifices of those brave officers whose names are etched on the Memorial Wall in Ottawa.”

And support the families of the slain. This year’s run is in memory of Calgary Police Sgt. Andrew Harnett, RCMP Consts. Shelby Patton, Heidi Stevenson and Allan Poapst,OPP Const. Marc Hovingh, and Toronto’s Northrup.

The public is welcome to attend.

Perhaps an on-bail alleged cop killer will be in the area too.

jwarmington@postmedia.com

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