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Judge denies request by man accused of killing Const. Jeffrey Northrup to lift publication ban | CBC News

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An Ontario judge has denied the request to partially lift a publication ban in the case of a man accused of intentionally running down and killing a Toronto police officer.

Superior Court Justice Jill Copeland concluded in a written decision released Friday that the publication ban in the case of Umar Zameer — charged with first-degree murder in the death of Const. Jeffrey Northrup — will remain in place. 

The ban prevents the public from finding out why Zameer was granted bail until after trial.

“I find that Mr. Zameer’s right to a fair trial will be adequately protected by existing safeguards in the jury selection and trial process,” Copeland said in the decision.

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“Further, I find that lifting the publication ban prior to Mr. Zameer’s trial, even partially, is likely to do more harm than good to the fairness and integrity of the trial process.”

Northrup, 55, died on July 2 after being struck by a vehicle as he was responding to a report of a robbery in a parking lot at Toronto City Hall.

Copeland granted Zameer bail in September, but the reasons for her decision and evidence presented in court are covered by a standard publication ban, which the defence had requested.

But after what his lawyer called a “misleading” narrative was presented to the public, Zameer sought to lift parts of the ban. The prosecution fought to keep the ban in place. 

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“While we are disappointed with the outcome, we respect the Court’s decision,” Zameer’s lawyer Nader Hasan said in a statement to CBC News Friday.

Evidence ‘paints very different picture’: judge

“And we are encouraged that her Honour did point out in these Reasons that the evidence at the bail hearing and the anticipated trial evidence, “viewed objectively, paints a very different picture” than the public comments made by the police and politicians.”

News of the decision to grant Zameer bail in September had sparked statements of outrage on social media, including by elected officials including Ontario Premier Doug Ford as well as Toronto Mayor John Tory and Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown.

Hasan had previously expressed concern that Zameer’s right to a fair trial was “in serious jeopardy,” given the comments made with the existing publication ban in place.

In her decision, Copeland said “some of the pre-trial publicity in this case, particularly uninformed comments by public figures, is troubling.”

“What the comments by politicians and the Twitter comments of some members of the public share is that their effect is to denigrate the presumption of innocence and the fair operation of the criminal justice system,” she added.

“In summary, I accept that based on the evidence and information at the bail hearing, the anticipated trial evidence as a whole, viewed objectively, paints a very different picture than the comments of the Chief of Police the morning after the arrest, and than the impression one would get from the uninformed comments of politicians made after Mr. Zameer was released on bail.”

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