Bed shortage means no mental reviews done yet on accused Edmonton attacker
Colette Derworiz, The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, December 13, 2017 11:45AM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, December 13, 2017 3:25PM EST
EDMONTON -- A man accused of attempted murder after a police officer was hit by a car and stabbed is still waiting for psychiatric assessments due to a critical bed shortage at an Alberta mental hospital.
Abdulahi Hasan Sharif, 30, was charged after a speeding car drove through a barrier at a Canadian Football League game in Edmonton on Sept. 30 and hit a police officer.
The driver got out, pulled out a large knife and began stabbing Const. Mike Chernyk.
Four pedestrians were hit and injured hours later when the driver of a cube van with police cars in pursuit sped down Jasper Avenue, one of Edmonton's main streets. Sharif is also charged with dangerous driving.
Sharif, who was approved for two psychiatric assessments, appeared in provincial court Wednesday on a closed-circuit camera from the Edmonton Remand Centre.
Court heard that he has yet to be seen because there is a critical bed shortage at Alberta Hospital.
"Due to the bed shortage at the hospital where they conduct the forensic assessments, they weren't able to accommodate Mr. Sharif to conduct the criminal responsibility assessment yet," his lawyer, Karanpal Aujla, said outside court. "It is somewhat concerning, considering the circumstances.
"I'd rather have them do an assessment that is properly done and well-detailed without rushing."
Sharif was scheduled to be seen by doctors on Thursday, although Alberta Health Services has asked for an additional 30 days to complete the assessments.
"I wouldn't phrase it as a critical bed shortage," said Mark Snaterse, executive director of addiction and mental health with Alberta Health Services. "We've certainly had an increase in the numbers of court-ordered assessments that we are asked to do.
"We've seen a dramatic increase, actually. Over the last three years, we've seen almost a doubling of the number of court-mandated assessments."
Aujla said his client will have two assessments: one that looks at his current fitness to stand trial and one on criminal responsibility, which looks at his level of responsibility at the time of the alleged offences.
Police have said they are investigating the September attacks as acts of terrorism, but Sharif hasn't been charged with anything terrorism related.
"He's facing serious charges, no doubt," said Aujla. "They are not pertaining to any kind of terrorism act."
Sharif is to appear in court again on Jan. 12.