Ford faces calls to apologize over Umar Zameer ‘heinous crime’ bail post

Click to play video: 'Toronto Police Chief has clarified his comments about “hoping for a different outcome” after the Umar Zameer verdict'
Toronto Police Chief has clarified his comments about “hoping for a different outcome” after the Umar Zameer verdict
RELATED: Chief Myron Demkiw said he wants the public to know he supports and accepts the verdict of the jury. Catherine McDonald reports – Apr 23, 2024

Ontario Premier Doug Ford is facing calls to personally apologize to Umar Zameer for a social media post that criticized his release on bail in 2021 after being charged with first-degree murder in the death of a Toronto police officer.

Zameer was acquitted on Sunday in the death of Det. Const. Jeffrey Northrup, who died on July 2, 2021, after he was hit by a vehicle in an underground parking garage at Toronto City Hall.

Shortly after Zameer was granted bail, Ford issued a statement on social media, saying it was “beyond comprehension” that he would be released on bail.

“It’s completely unacceptable that the person charged for this heinous crime is now out on bail,” Ford said in September 2021 on Twitter, now X. “Our justice system needs to get its act together and start putting victims and their families ahead of criminals.”

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Then-Toronto mayor John Tory and Brampton’s mayor also denounced the decision.

Shortly after Zameer was found not guilty, Ford faced new questions about his comments and his insistence that the accused in the case was a “criminal.”

“At that time I had limited information,” Ford told reporters at Queen’s Park on Tuesday. “I respect the court’s decision.”

At the time, the reasons Zameer was granted bail could not be publicly disclosed due to a publication ban but it was lifted when the trial ended. In her decision, the bail judge found, among other things, that the Crown had a “weak” case for murder.

“It’s a very sad situation that happened and I respect the court’s decision,” Ford said Tuesday. “My heart goes out to Margaret (Northrup) and her family as well. It’s a very sad situation.”

Umar Zameer during a press conference following his not guilty verdict, in Toronto, Sunday, April 21, 2024. Boris Bytensky, president of the Criminal Lawyers’ Association, says Zameer’s case is a teachable moment for politicians who spoke out about the decision to grant him bail. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov. CKL

Liberal MPP John Fraser said it was “wrong” for the premier to have commented on the situation and said Ford owes the family an apology.

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“The premier needs to apologize to Mr. Zameer and he needs to do it now, not wait,” Fraser told Global News.

That call was echoed by the NDP and Green Party.

“Somebody who leads this province should know better than to weigh in on an issue like this without having proper information to back up what he said,” NDP MPP Jeff Burch said.

“It was a misuse of power and he should apologize.”

When asked whether he regrets the comments, Ford repeated that he had “limited information” at the time. He offered the same response when asked directly if he should apologize.

— with files from The Canadian Press

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