Sharif should get life in prison, lawyer argues at sentence hearing
EDMONTON -- Crown lawyers are calling for a life sentence in the case of Abdulahi Hasan Sharif, the man who struck a police officer with a car before stabbing him repeatedly outside of a CFL game in 2017.
Sharif, 32, was found guilty in the attack on the officer as well as mowing down four pedestrians with a U-Haul van. He was convicted of attempted murder, aggravated assault, criminal flight causing bodily harm and dangerous driving.
During his sentencing hearing Thursday, Crown lawyer Shelly Bykewich argued that Sharif's actions were "unrelenting and deliberate" as opposed to spontaneous.
"A fit and proper sentence for the attempted murder of Const. Chernyk would be a life sentence," she said.
At the hearing, Edmonton Police Chief Dale McFee delivered a community impact statement saying the day of Sept. 30, 2017, lives on in infamy at the department.
"The jury might have thought that for the officers involved, this was just another day at the office," he told the courtroom. "But if they had seen past the badge the uniform the person wearing it, they might have had a different perspective. This was not just another day at the office, it was a stranger trying to kill people."
McFee said he and his department will "never fully understand" the impact of Sharif's attack on Chernyk and others, and added some are still seeking assistance for stress related to the incident.
Six other victims or their relatives read victim impact statements to the court.
One victim, Kim O'Hara, recounted how she was left unable to communicate for two weeks after being struck by the stolen cube van and suffering a skull fracture.
She said she has hip pain, vision problems and speech and recognition problems to this day.
"Today I feel like I lost two years of my life," she said. “I will suffer from that night for the rest of my life and nothing will change that."
Another victim struck by the cube van, Jordan Stewardson, also read a victim impact statement saying before the attack, she was "happy" and "always smiling."
"I feel like I lost that Jordan on Sept. 30," she said.
According to witnesses, Stewardson was dragged about 20 feet by the cube van. She said she suffered knee and hamstring pain that severely limited her athletic abilities and also experiences post-traumatic stress disorder to this day.
"I've never had to go to a psychologist before," she said. "I experience frequent flashbacks from one little trigger. I go right back to that night."
HOW SHARIF CAME TO CANADA
In an unusual twist, Sharif elected to represent himself during his trial, foregoing legal counsel.
Amicus Greg Lazin was appointed to offer impartial advice to Sharif, but did not speak with him once the entire trial or during the sentencing hearing.
Lazin told court he had gone through some disclosure in an attempt to provide more information about Sharif, but was stymied.
"I have not confirmed that information with Mr. Sharif, as Mr. Sharif has never spoken with me," he said.
While the information is scant, Lazin said he learned that Sharif was born in Mogadishu, Somalia, on Jan. 1, 1987.
It's unclear what his level of education was, but Lazin said Sharif moved to Kenya as a refugee in 2008 before travelling to the United States in July 2011.
He was transferred to U.S. Immigration and Border Protection Services and was ordered to be deported back to Somalia in December 2011.
Sharif waived his right to appeal and was released on order of supervision "due to a lack of likelihood of his removal in the reasonably foreseeable future."
He then travelled to Canada on Jan. 1, 2012, where he submitted a claim of refugee protection against Somalia. That claim was accepted on Jan. 29, 2012.
Sharif then applied for permanent residency in May 2013 but the application was refused because he failed to provide specified documents.
He claimed he worked for an Edmonton company called Vericlean between April 2013 and May 2014, doing asbestos removal.
Another application for permanent residency that Sharif made in 2016 is still active, Lazin said.
Sharif was asked during the hearing whether he wanted to make a statement before being sentenced.
Through an interpreter, Sharif simply said "no."
The final day of the hearing will take place Friday before a sentence is rendered at 2 p.m.
With files from CTV News Edmonton's David Ewasuk.