Hundreds of people lined Memorial Drive on Tuesday to pay tribute to a fallen Calgary police officer killed in the line of duty.
Sgt. Andrew Harnett, 37, was killed during a traffic stop on Dec. 31, 2020. He was a 12-year member of the Calgary Police Service and is survived by two older brothers and a mother, as well as a wife who is expecting their first child this summer.
On Tuesday starting at noon, the CPS formally escorted Harnett’s body from the medical examiner’s office on Bowness Road Northeast, along Memorial Drive and through Forest Lawn to a funeral home.
CPS said members of the public were “welcome” to join their employees in lining the route – though they warned attendees should follow COVID-19 protocols, including maintaining social distancing of two metres.
As the police procession travelled through Calgary, dozens and dozens of officers could be seen standing in their uniforms along the route, next to members of the public who gathered alongside them.
Speaking to Global News, Harnett’s former partner Const. Jessica McRitchie said he was a confident officer who she learned a lot from.
The pair worked together for a year and a half starting in 2010.
“Those memories are pretty crystal clear for me,” McRitchie said. “He has a nickname ‘hardcore Harnett’ and I don’t know if he started calling himself that, but it sure stuck because that guy was relentless when it came to his job — fighting crime, doing traffic stops.
“He loved to work and I just tried to keep up with him.”
McRitchie said she felt a lot of “sadness and shock” when she learned of Harnett’s death.
“We’re all hurting and we really appreciate the community support that we’ve seen… the blue lights, it’s really meaningful.”
Jon Sharp was on duty with Calgary EMS and was at the hospital the night Harnett was rushed in.
“It’s heartbreaking to see our brothers get hurt.”
Speaking with Global News, Sharp described seeing “streams of CPS members coming through, obviously distraught from what just happened.”
“This is the first time in my career I’ve had a brother go down in the line of duty,” he said.
Sharp also spoke of the special bond between EMS members and law enforcement, saying they often “back each other up on calls.”
“Going through this, it feels like I lost a friend and I lost a colleague and a brother even though we were separate services.”
While paying his respects along Memorial Drive on Tuesday, Sharp said it was moving to see the city come together and honour the sacrifice Harnett made.
“That’s the tough thing about tragedy… it’s such a permanent loss but it also has a way of bringing together people in a way that almost nothing else can”
Meanwhile, Harnett’s neighbour told Global News he had only known the officer for a short time but wanted to pay his respects.
“He was a good friend,” Steve Ferguson said. “I only knew him for a couple years and the time I did know him, he was a standup guy — always there to help and just a good person all around.”
CPS said in a Monday news release that arrangements for Harnett’s official funeral, including the date, are still being made and will be shared “as soon as they are available.”
Amir Abdulrahman, 19, and a 17-year-old who cannot be identified have been charged with first-degree murder in connection to Harnett’s death.