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Closing arguments expected today in trial of man accused of running over Toronto police officer

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Prosecutors and defence lawyers are expected to make their final submissions today in the trial of a man accused of running over a Toronto police officer.

Umar Zameer has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder 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.

Zameer has testified he didn't know Northrup and his partner – who were in plain clothes – were police officers and he got scared when two strangers rushed towards his car in the largely empty parking lot shortly after midnight.

He told the court he was trying to drive away quickly to save his family from what he believed to be robbers and he didn't see anything in front of his car or realize he had hit anyone until after his arrest.

Three police officers who witnessed the incident testified Northrup was standing in the middle of the laneway in front of the car with his hands outstretched when he was run over. Two of them said Northrup fell on the hood and then slid off.

Umar Zameer, left to right, defence lawyers Alexandra Heine, Nader Hasan, Crown attorney Karen Simone are shown in this courtroom sketch as Justice Anne Molloy and jury members look on in Toronto on Thursday, March 21, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Alexandra Newbould

However, two crash reconstruction experts, one of them called by the Crown, told the court they concluded Northrup was knocked down by the car reversing and was already on the ground when he was run over by it moving forward.

The expert called by the defence said Northrup would not have been visible to Zameer when he was on the ground because he was in the car's blind zone. He also noted there was no damage to the hood or front of the car, which he would expect to see if a man of Northrup's stature had been hit head-on.

Court has also seen security footage of the parking garage that shows an unidentified object believed to be Northrup appear on the ground in front of the car as it drives forward in the laneway. Northrup cannot be seen at any other point in the video.

A pillar partially blocks the camera's view on the left, hiding some of the earlier portions of the encounter, but there is a clear shot of the laneway.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 17, 2024

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