– York Regional Police Officer Killed Trying To Stop Airbag Theft Ring
Thursday August 2, 2007
He was trying to stop a ring that specialized in stealing airbags. That effort cost a York Region police officer his life Thursday, as cops in the area north of Toronto tried to break up a group of thieves that stole not only automobiles, but the life saving devices located inside them. Cst. Robert Plunkett was among several undercover officers watching two men in two separate cars as they allegedly attempted to make off with the inflatable gear from an address in Toronto just before dawn. When the two Hondas, one gold, the other white, were spotted in Markham on Ascot Cres. in the Birchmount and Steeles area, officers moved in.
But When Plunkett went in to arrest the man in the gold coloured car, things went very wrong very fast. “As Constable Plunkett attempted to arrest the suspect, the suspect put the vehicle into reverse and accelerated over the curb and a lawn,” explains Chief Armand La Barge. “The suspect managed to reverse the vehicle and Constable Plunkett was pinned between the open door and the vehicle … as the car accelerated quickly over a curb and over the top of a lawn and some hedges it then came into contact with a tree on the lawn and Constable Plunkett was thrown from the vehicle at that particular point in time and that’s when he suffered fatal injuries.”
“As Constable Plunkett fell from the vehicle, the suspect continued to drive across the lawn. The suspect exited the stolen Honda and attempted to flee but was quickly arrested by a surveillance officer. A second suspect who had been driving the white Honda also attempted to flee but he was arrested nearby by surveillance officers.”
Plunkett was rushed to Scarborough General Hospital but doctors couldn’t save him. Other officers learned of the unfolding tragedy when an area resident phoned in a report of ‘two loud bangs’ in the street around 6am. When that unidentified caller peeked out his window, he saw a person lying on a lawn across the street. And by the time an ambulance arrived, he recalls hearing cries of “he’s bleeding, he’s bleeding!” coming from the scene.
Cops have charged two Toronto men, 19-year-old Nadim Jiwa and 23-year-old Basir Mohammed Yousafzai in the crime, but for now they’re not accusing either man of homicide.
Jiwa is facing manslaughter accusations, while the elder man is looking at a variety of other charges, including breach of recognizance and possession of stolen property. Cops admit it’s possible and even likely that the charges will be upgraded as the investigation continues. Both were in a Newmarket courtroom on Thursday and are being held in custody.
Flags at police stations across the GTA are being lowered to half mast, where they’ll stay until the officer’s funeral. Plunkett was a 22-year veteran of the force and was a member of the Special Services Unit. He leaves a family and many friends behind.