Thirty-five-year-old Sgt. Ryan Russell (pictured above) was hit by a plow driven by 46-year-old Richard Kachkar, who has pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree murder and dangerous driving.
Wednesday saw several witnesses testify in the case, including fellow police officer Sgt. Sarah Andrews. Andrews and her partner, who were first on the scene when witnesses called 911, held Russell and told him to hold on as he took his final breaths. Andrews told the court there was blood everywhere and that she had been unable to find a pulse.
Other witnesses described how Russell had attempted to stop the plow, backing away as he fired shots at it before the vehicle crashed into him. Russell was knocked over and his body flipped toward the center of the plow, where its blade struck him in the head and fractured his skull.
A tearful Anderson told the court about the moment she arrived on the scene:
“I dropped to the ground and I tried to roll the body over. I ended up rolling him on top of me and it was at that time I realized it was a police officer. I put my right hand underneath his head and I could feel a hole in the back of his head. There was a lot of blood pouring out into my hand.”
Although Russell was unconscious at the time, Andrews testified that she could feel a “slight warm air” when she placed her cheek just above the stricken man’s face. She explained:
“I took his left hand and I held it and I could feel his wedding ring and I just kept talking to him telling him that he had to fight and to hold on, help was coming.
“I kept asking for help on the radio and another officer finally came. He helped me loosen up his vest and I put my hand under his vest to see if I could feel his heart beating. He was warm, but I couldn’t feel his heart beating.”
It was at this point that Anderson could no longer feel Russell’s breath on her cheek. The police officer was later pronounced dead in hospital.
The trial of Richard Kachkar, pictured above in a CTV News artist sketch, began on Monday. The court has already heard about how he stole the plow at a Tim Hortons coffee house as two landscapers stopped for coffee on January 12, 2011. Kachkar proceeded to drive around Toronto for two hours, hitting several cars along the way. He was heard shouting about the Taliban, Chinese technology, and a microchip in his body.
Sgt. Russell responded to calls about the runaway snowplow, which turned towards his police cruiser as he approached it. It was then that Russell reversed and exited his vehicle.
Witnesses describe how the plow accelerated towards Russell, who continued backing away and firing shots at the plow’s windshield. Witness Vance Cooper told the court:
“At that moment the plow is bearing down on the officer and I’m just holding my breath and hoping that this officer can get out of the way. [He’s] driving straight, no steering, no braking, no apparent effort to change course.”
After Russell was hit, the plow continued driving forwards and the police officer left to die in the street.
The trial is expected to last two months.