Death of Abdirahman Abdi
|Date||July 24, 2016|
|Time||c. 9:30 a.m. (EDT)|
|Location||Fairmont Avenue and Wellington Street West, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada|
|Participants||Constable Daniel Montsion|
|Charges||Manslaughter, aggravated assault, assault with a weapon|
Abdi had come to Canada from Somalia in 2009. He worked at a local car wash, though he was unemployed in the months leading up to his death. At the time of his death, he was 37 years old. Following his death, Abdi's family described him as someone with mental health issues.
Arrest and death
At approximately 9:30 a.m. on July 24, 2016, police were called to the Hintonburg Bridgehead coffee shop on the corner of Fairmont Avenue and Wellington Street West over allegations that Abdi was groping women there. J.M. Duval, a witness who was present at the coffee shop since 9:15 a.m., said he saw a commotion and that the front doors were locked as a group outside restrained Abdi. Duval said it looked like Abdi was trying to either flee or get back into the shop. Duval asked the allegedly assaulted woman (who had been taken to the back of the shop) in French what had happened and she repeatedly said (translated) "He groped me." Tracey Clark, the owner of Bridgehead who was not present during the incident, gave a statement on August 5 after speaking with staff and customers, describing Abdi as having harassed and assaulted multiple people in the shop. Clark mentioned this was not the first incident with him and that he would sometimes stare at customers and get too close to them. Clark said that they had previously intervened by asking Abdi if he was aware of what he was doing and if he could stop.
Pursuit and altercation
Constable David Weir arrived on scene at approximately 9:42 a.m. He asked Abdi to place his hands on the window of a nearby diner, which he did. However, when Weir reached for his handcuffs, Abdi fled down Wellington Street West toward his apartment building at 55 Hilda Street, about 250 metres from the Bridgehead.
At some point during the pursuit, Abdi picked up a 13.6-kilogram rubber weight used for holding temporary street signs in place and held it above his head Abdi reached his building at approximately 9:48 am. Weir caught up to Abdi just outside the main entrance and shoved him from behind, forcing him to drop the weight and sending him crashing into the doors of his apartment complex. Constable Daniel Montsion arrived moments later.
What happened next is unclear because of conflicting accounts provided by witnesses. However, CCTV footage shot from the lobby of Abdi's apartment building shows Montsion punching Abdi in the face. The two officers then forced Abdi to the ground. Montsion could be seen striking Abdi in the legs and twice more in the head. Abdi then lost consciousness. The officers turned him on his side into a recovery position and called for paramedics at 9:49 a.m.
Paramedics arrived at 9:56 a.m. However, they believed they were responding to a pepper spray incident and spent some time getting debriefed by the officers before approaching Abdi. It was not until the paramedics checked Abdi's vital signs that they began CPR. Abdi was taken to the Ottawa Civic Hospital. Abdi was removed from life support and pronounced dead the following day.
As required under the Police Services Act, the provincial Special Investigations Unit (SIU) conducted an investigation into the incident. The SIU is required to investigate all reports of deaths, serious injuries, or sexual assaults in relation to provincial or municipal police officers.
Two Ottawa Police Service officers who were involved in the arrest – Constable David Weir and Constable Daniel Montsion – were designated as subject officers during the course of the investigation. Constable Weir was later re-classified as a witness officer, while Constable Montsion would be charged with manslaughter.
On March 6, 2017, the SIU laid charges against Constable Daniel Montsion for manslaughter, aggravated assault, and assault with a weapon in relation to the death of Abdi. On October 20, 2020, Montsion was found not guilty on all charges.
Abdi's funeral was held on Friday, July 29 at the Ottawa (Main) Mosque, with 800 inside and more outside. Naeem Malik, President of the Ottawa Muslim Association, estimated total attendance at over 2,000 people. The funeral was led by Imam Mohamed Hachimi and a family statement was read by Imam Sikander Hashmi of the Kanata Muslim Association. Mayor Jim Watson spoke at the funeral.
The Canadian Somali Mothers' Association called for the two officers to be removed and the Canadian Council of Muslim Women requested a critical look at the case.
- "Abdirahman Abdi depressed, unemployed before confrontation with Ottawa police: former boss". Global News. 27 July 2016.
- Harford, Evelyn; Yogaretnam, Shaamini (26 July 2016). "Ottawa man Abdirahman Abdi dies after confrontation with police". Ottawa Citizen.
- "Ottawa police officer charged with manslaughter in death of Abdirahman Abdi". National Post. 6 March 2017.
- "How a black man died after encounter with Ottawa police: What we know so far". The Globe and Mail. 3 August 2016.
- Porter, Kate (28 July 2016). "Timeline – Abdirahman Abdi's fatal encounter with Ottawa Police".
Police pursue 37-year-old Abdirahman Abdi on foot for some 250 metres, and arrest him outside his apartment
- Stone, Laura (29 July 2016). "Witnesses recount Abdirahman Abdi's 'gruesome' encounter with Ottawa police before his death". The Globe and Mail.
last Sunday morning police were called to a coffee shop to investigate a disturbance, which allegedly involved Mr. Abdi groping women(updated July 30)
- Yogaretnam, Shaamini (28 July 2016). "'He groped me': Witness describes coffee shop confrontation before Abdi arrest".
- "Abdirahman Abdi worried Bridgehead customers on previous occasions before fatal arrest, owner says". CBC News. 5 August 2016.
Clark wasn't at the Bridgehead shop on the corner of Wellington Street West and Fairmont Avenue on the Sunday morning when the incident began, but said she has spoken with staff and customers who were there. She would not go into great detail about what happened, in part due to ongoing investigations, describing Abdi's actions only as an "assault" and "harassment" of more than one person inside. "It was a rapidly escalating situation where Mr. Abdi did harass a customer, and more than one, and several customers [sought] to move him out of the store to restrain him until police could arrive," Clark said.
- "The Montsion trial resumes: What the Crown says happened to Abdirahman Abdi". CBC News. Ottawa. May 29, 2019. Retrieved January 25, 2021.
- Helmer, Aedan (August 21, 2019). "A full picture of Abdirahman Abdi's final moments has finally been painted". Ottawa Citizen. Ottawa. Retrieved January 25, 2021.
- "SIU Started an Investigation into Arrest of an Ottawa Man, Appealing for Witnesses Case Number: 16-OCD-193". 24 July 2016.
He was transported to Ottawa Civic Hospital.
- "2 officers under investigation in death of Ottawa man identified". CBC. July 26, 2016. Retrieved September 2, 2016.
- Nease, Kristy (6 March 2017). "Ottawa police officer charged with manslaughter in man's 2016 death". CBC News.
- "SIU Lays Charges against Officer in Relation to Death of Abdirahman Abdi". Special Investigations Unit. Retrieved 6 March 2017.
- "Evidence wraps in officer's manslaughter trial". CBC. Oct 23, 2019.
- "Const. Daniel Montsion not guilty in death of Abdirahman Abdi". CBC News. Oct 20, 2020. Retrieved 20 October 2020.
- "Ottawa Const. Montsion not guilty on all charges in death of Abdirahman Abdi, judge finds". Global News. Oct 20, 2020. Retrieved 20 October 2020.
- Harford, Evelyn (2 August 2016). "Abdirahman Abdi's family retains lawyer Lawrence Greenspon". Ottawa Citizen.
- "Hundreds attend Abdirahman Abdi funeral, family seeks 'open, transparent' investigation". 29 July 2016.
Friday’s funeral drew more than 800 mourners to the Ottawa Mosque on Northwestern Avenue, with many more spilling out the front steps and onto the lawn outside.
- "Thousands mourn at funeral for Abdirahman Abdi". CTV News. 29 July 2016.
The funeral for the Ottawa man who died following a confrontation with police took place at the Ottawa Main Mosque Friday .. The president of the Ottawa Muslim Association (OMA) estimated more than 2000 people attended the funeral.
- Ali, Nimao (27 July 2016). "Supporting the Family of Abdirahman Abdi".
- Provencher, Norman (30 July 2016). "Abdi death: Somali moms want cops taken off duty pending SIU probe". Ottawa Sun.
- "Black Lives Matter protesters hit SIU headquarters". Toronto Star. 24 August 2016.