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GoFundMe for Zameer family debts surpasses $200K fundraising goal

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A fundraiser meant to help Umar Zameer’s family pay their debts following a three-year prosecution has amassed more than $200,000 in donations in the two days since the Brampton accountant was acquitted of first-degree murder in the death of a Toronto police officer.

The fundraiser, a GoFundMe organized by Zameer’s wife, Aaida Shaikh, has been active since 2021, but the majority share of donations have come in over the last 48 hours, Nader Hasan, Zameer’s lawyer, told CTV News Toronto.

“The amount raised prior to the acquittal was in the range of $30,000,” Hasan said.

As of Tuesday morning, the fundraiser had amassed nearly $175,000 in donations. By later that afternoon, it hit upwards of $207,000.

“In fairness though, the GoFundMe page was not widely publicized prior to the acquittal and despite that, there were many people from across the country who made inquiries as to whether they could contribute,” Hasan added.

Zameer was acquitted of a charge of first-degree murder by a jury at Toronto’s Superior Court of Justice on Sunday following a five-week trial that culminated in a rare apology from the presiding judge.

“You are free to go Mr. Zameer. You have my [...] deepest apologies,” Justice Anne Molloy told Zameer, who broke down in sobs upon hearing the verdict.

The father of three thanked “Canada as a whole” when speaking to reporters outside the courthouse after the decision.

“I thought Aaida and I made a mistake when we decided to come to Canada,” he said.

“But now I see that Canada did not allow an injustice.”

In the writeup included on the fundraiser's website, Shaikh writes that the family's lawyers have spent "innumerable hours" on their case and have been "very understanding" about their inability to keep up with the subsequent legal bills.

"We want to honour our commitments. However, without help from you, we will be unable to pay," she wrote.

Northrup died on July 2, 2021 after being struck by Zameer’s BMW in the public parking lot underneath Toronto’s Nathan Phillips Square.

The officer had rushed the vehicle alongside his partner, Lisa Forbes, both in plainclothes, while investigating a stabbing that had just taken place nearby, the court heard.

Zameer, who was with his pregnant wife and young son at the time, has always maintained, from the day of the incident to trial, that he did not know the people approaching his vehicle were police officers and that he behaved out of fear for his famiy's safety.

Umar Zameer speaks to members of the media outside the courthouse following his not guilty verdict, in Toronto, Sunday, April 21, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher KatsarovAccording to evidence presented in court, he attempted to escape the confrontation, first reversing his BMW and striking Northrup, before driving forward and fleeing the scene.

At trial, prosecutors alleged Zameer knew Northrup was a police officer and that he drove directly at the man. Northrup was almost 300 pounds and stood 6'3"; "He was huge and visible," Crown counsel Karen Simone told the court.

Molloy, however, was critical of the Crown’s case. She questioned why Zameer, having nothing to do with the nearby stabbing, would have fled the scene had he known Northrup and Forbes were with Toronto police officers. He had done nothing wrong at the time and had no criminal record, the court heard.

She also found that the officer's testimony was not corroborated by the rest of the evidence presented at trial. In her charge to the jury on Thursday, she advised the 12-man jury to watch out for possible collusion.

The allegations of perjury saw Toronto police chief Myron Demkiw request the Ontario Provincial Police to conduct an “independent review” into concerns about the reliability of officer testimony.

Since Sunday’s acquittal, the Zameer family has seen a wave of support.

“I can only echo Ontario Superior Court Justice Anne Molloy, my deepest apologies for what you've been through,” commented one supporter on the fundraising page.

“We hope for nothing but the best for you and your family as you continue to build your life here in Canada,” wrote another.

Speaking after Sunday’s verdict, Hasan said that when he took on Zameer’s case, “there was a lot of hate towards my client.”

“But they didn’t know the truth. Now Canadians know.” 

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