WARNING: This article contains details that may be disturbing to some.
Const. Brodie Quenneville Thorpe had been a police officer for just eight days when he found himself sitting in the passenger seat of an EPS cruiser, gun drawn, chasing a U-Haul through downtown Edmonton on Sept. 30, 2017.
Thorpe testified at Abdulahi Sharif’s attempted murder trial on Tuesday. Sharif is facing 11 charges, including five counts of attempted murder, in connection with the events that unfolded two years ago.
Thorpe and his partner and training officer were working on the south side of the city when they heard a fellow officer had been struck by a car and stabbed near Commonwealth Stadium.
The two officers looked for ways to help the investigation. They eventually set up a vehicle check stop on 112 Avenue just west of Wayne Gretzky Drive. Thorpe testified police were looking for “a younger black male with short, shaved sides, wearing a black leather jacket.”
He checked car after car leaving the Edmonton Eskimos game and then he saw a U-Haul approaching.
“It was dark out so using my flashlight I shone it through the windshield to light up the interior of the car,” Thorpe testified. “I observed a large bruise or swelling on the (driver’s) forehead.”
Thorpe called over his partner, Sgt. Roy Paulino, who also testified at Sharif’s trial.
Paulino said he approached the truck and saw the driver get out.
“I observed his skin to be clammy. I observed an approximately larger than golf ball-sized red mark on his upper left forehead and was attempting to determine what that was from, if it was from a fight or from a collision or from any type of struggle that he may have had.”
Paulino took the driver’s licence, which belonged to Abdulahi Hasan Sharif.
Following a brief check of the information, Paulino shouted to Thorpe, “I told him: ‘This is our guy.'”
But before either Paulino or Thorpe could do anything else, they told the jury the U-Haul driver jumped back into the truck and took off.
They testified they raced back to their police car and began chasing the U-Haul.
“I just kept the car matted as hard as I could,” Paulino said.
He testified he followed the U-Haul through residential areas and across the Dawson Bridge before it left the river valley and turned west onto Jasper Avenue. At times, the chase reached 90 kilometers per hour and the U-Haul avoided traffic by driving into oncoming traffic.
“We continued westbound on Jasper Ave with heavy traffic, both pedestrian and vehicle. It was Saturday night and at those hours, all the bars were open,” Paulino said.
He said the U-Haul turned north onto 109 Street and then into an alley by a pub called The Pint. At this point, officers on the police radio began reporting the U-Haul was hitting pedestrians and Paulino saw bodies laying on the ground with people on top of them trying to help.
Moments later, the police duty officer gave the order to stop the U-Haul using “any means necessary.”
“I turned to my partner Brodie and I told him to be prepared, that I might have to pull up alongside him and he may have to shoot this guy,” Paulino said.
Thorpe said: “I had my service pistol in my hand while sitting in the passenger seat. And if the opportunity presented itself, I knew that I may have been required to use it.”
Crown prosecutor Elizabeth Wheaton asked what was going through his mind at this point. Thorpe responded, saying he was concerned.
“We were unsure what was inside the vehicle so there were a lot of unknowns regarding to that. At first I believed that there may be some sort of device inside of the vehicle which could have gone off at any time.”
Brodie never had to fire his weapon at the U-Haul. A tactical team suburban intentionally drove into the truck and flipped it onto its side.
Court heard Brodie and Paulino jumped out of their police car and both approached the U-Haul with their guns drawn.
Paulino described the moment as filled with “a little bit of chaos, lots of approaching members, lots of sirens, more police cars, more lights.”
The officer testified he then saw the tactical team smash through the windshield and try to drag the driver out. It didn’t work. The driver fought back and resisted, he said.
“At that point, I heard somebody yell out: ‘Somebody Taser him!’ At the same time, I was deploying my Taser. This struck the male in the side. A second Taser at the same time was also deployed and at this time, the accused buckled inside the cab, bending at the waist with his arms kind of forward.
“I dropped my Taser on the ground. I reached in with both hands and grabbed the accused by the right arm and ripped him out through the windshield and onto the ground.”
Paulino placed handcuffs on the man, who he identified as Sharif. He then transported him back to police headquarters.
The Crown prosecutor asked what Sharif’s demeanor was like after the arrest.
Throughout the day’s testimony, Sharif stared forward with his arms crossed.
As he has done with every Crown witness so far, Sharif chose not to question either police officer.
Sharif, who has been in custody since the incident, is representing himself in his trial. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges laid against him.