Suspect feared for his safety and that of his kids, murder trial told

RCMP Cpl. Andrew Olfert told defence lawyer Jim Lutz that based on his experience with Daignault, Christal’s concerns were founded

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Murder suspect Andrew Christal repeatedly told police he was fearful of Robert Daignault, the man he says fatally stabbed Uber driver Kasif Hirani.

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And RCMP Cpl. Andrew Olfert told defence lawyer Jim Lutz that based on his experience with Daignault, Christal’s concerns were founded.

Lutz asked Olfert to describe to the Calgary jury hearing Christal’s murder trial his own experience with Daignault, who is charged separately with Hirani’s Dec. 29, 2019 murder and is scheduled to stand trial next January.

Olfert said he and his partner, Sgt. Collin Kuca, had arranged with Edmonton police to arrest Daignault and co-accused Trista Tinkler, who were believed to be at a hotel in the capital the evening of Jan. 3, 2020.

The officer said they had taken a position “out of the field of play” where the arrest was to take place.

While sitting in their unmarked SUV they saw the couple walk by and decided to make the arrest themselves.

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But instead of complying with the orders to surrender, Daignault and Tinkler ran off, then separated, Olfert said.

He chased after Daignault on foot, before the suspect attempted to steal a running pickup truck outside a restaurant by pulling the driver from the vehicle.

“It became very apparent to me at that point that this was a situation that if I did not take immediate action it could very well result in loss of life,” Olfert said.

“I knew that I could not let Mr. Daignault leave in that vehicle.”

Olfert attempted to grab onto Daignault, but the suspect put the truck in gear and began to back up.

The officer held onto the suspect until they both fell from the pickup and he was able to complete the arrest.

“At some point both Mr. Daignault and myself were thrown from that pickup truck,” Olfert said.

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Olfert said he suffered a torn rotator cuff which still bothers him and “had some pretty good road rash … a lot of skin missing.”

Lutz asked if the incident was the scariest in the officer’s career.

“There’s been a few where I was reminded of my own mortality and that was one of them,” Olfert said.

Christal told police he was present when Hirani was killed near the Springbank Airport during a botched robbery, but said he didn’t stab the victim, only holding him briefly as Daignault attacked.

The trial continues on Thursday.

On Twitter: @KMartinCourts

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