Toronto cop reveals Const. Jeffery Northrup’s final moments during trial testimony

Click to play video: 'Undercover officer working with Const. Northrup testifies at trial for Umar Zameer'
Undercover officer working with Const. Northrup testifies at trial for Umar Zameer
WATCH: As Catherine McDonald reports, Const. Schamil Pais said Northrup and his partner identified themselves as police and Northrup held up what he believed to be a police badge – Mar 25, 2024

A Toronto police officer who witnessed the final moments of Const. Jeffery Northrup on the night of his death nearly three years ago gave his testimony in the Umar Zameer trial in a Toronto courtroom on Monday.

Northrup, 55, died on July 2, 2021, after he was run over by a car in an underground parking garage below Toronto City Hall as he was responding to a report of a stabbing. Another plainclothes officer was also injured.

On Monday, Const. Scharnil Pais with the Toronto Police Service told the courtroom he was sitting in the passenger side of an unmarked police minivan on the fatal evening, when he says he saw Umar Zameer drive his vehicle toward Const. Northrup in the underground parkade.

Pais was testifying in the first-degree murder trial of Zameer, who is accused of running over and killing Northrup just after midnight. Zameer has pleaded not guilty.

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He testified that he and his partner drove the unmarked police minivan to the parkade to Northrup and officer Lisa Forbes, who were in plain clothes, on foot and investigating a stabbing.

Pais said they went to the parkade after seeing security video showing the stabbing victim coming up from the Trout stairwell, adding that because the parkade was a large space, they decided to attend with their vehicle.

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He said that he and his partner saw Forbes and Northrup in the parkade, who were trying to speak to Zameer who was driving a grey BMW, with a female wearing a hijab in the passenger seat.

“The first image in my recollection is the vehicle has accelerated forward, Northrup and Forbes are on the driver’s side of the vehicle as it accelerates forward. Northrup is by driver’s side knocking, announcing, ‘police, stop’”.

He testified that the BMW then reversed aggressively, and Northrup and Forbes were sideswiped as Forbes yelled, “Police; stop. Hands up in the air. Stop.”

Pais then recalled Northrup ended up in front of the BMW.

“It all happened very quickly. I very distinctly remember him [Northrup] pointing at the driver, and his left hand holding something, what I believed to be a badge,” said Pais. He then motioned to the jury with his hands and palms out.
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Pais then testified the vehicle accelerated aggressively, striking Northrup and causing him to fall forward onto the BMW’s hood. Northrup then rolled onto the ground where he was run over by the BMW, which continued driving forward.

Pais said he and his partner drove the unmarked minivan to catch up with Zameer and rammed the BMW from behind. He said his partner arrested Zameer, while he produced his firearm and approached the woman sitting in the passenger seat–Zameer’s pregnant wife. He testified she was screaming and not obeying his commands to get out of the vehicle.

“I remember her saying, ‘We didn’t know. We didn’t know you were cops. Is he OK? Please tell me he’s going to be OK,'” Pais said.

Pais said moments after, when he was interacting with Zameer, he told him, ‘You just ran over a cop’.

He testified that Zameer made a number of utterances that night, but the jury has yet to hear what they were.

Pais also told the jury that at one point when Zameer was in handcuffs, he told him to get up and move in the parkade, but because he didn’t comply, he struck Zameer across the face.

Defence lawyer Nader Hasen told the jury in his opening address that the officer’s death was a “tragic accident” caused by a misunderstanding and fear.

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Hasan said it’s expected Zameer will testify and that he didn’t know that Northrup and Forbes were police officers and that he and his wife thought they were being ambushed by criminals when the officers rushed towards them in the deserted underground parking lot.

Hasan has begun his cross examination of Pais. It will continue on Tuesday.

— with files from the Canadian Press and Global News’ Catherine McDonald. 

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