Death of Abdirahman Abdi

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Death of Abdirahman Abdi
DateJuly 24, 2016 (2016-07-24)
Timec. 9:30 a.m. (EDT)
LocationFairmont Avenue and Wellington Street West, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
OutcomeUnder investigation
Death(s)Abdirahman Abdi

The death of Abdirahman Abdi, a Somali-Canadian, occurred on July 24, 2016, in the neighbourhood of Hintonburg in the Kitchissippi Ward[1] of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Abdi died in an incident with the Ottawa Police Service.

Background[edit]

Abdi had come to Canada from Somalia in 2009 and worked at a local car wash. At the time of his death, he was 37 years old.[2] Following his death, Abdi's family described him as someone with mental health issues.[3][4]

Arrest and death[edit]

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.[5][6] 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 said (translated) "He groped me." repeatedly.[7] 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.[8] 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.[8]

After the Bridgehead confrontation, police pursued Abdi 250 metres (three blocks) and arrested him outside his apartment building at 55 Hilda Street.[5][8] During that encounter, Abdi began to suffer "medical distress". Dispatchers sent an ambulance at 9:52 a.m., and a paramedic reported "vital signs absent" at 9:59 a.m.

Abdi was later taken to the Ottawa Civic Hospital[9] where a doctor informed the family he had died 45 minutes prior to arrival.[2] His death was announced to the public at 3:17 p.m. on Monday, July 25.[5]

SIU investigation[edit]

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.[10] Constable Weir was later re-classified as a witness officer, while Constable Montsion would be charged with manslaughter.[11]

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.[12]

Aftermath[edit]

The Abdi family retained lawyer Lawrence Greenspon two days after his death on Wednesday July 27.[13]

Abdi's funeral was held on Friday, July 29 at the Ottawa (Main) Mosque, with 800 inside[14] and more outside. Naeem Malik, President of the Ottawa Muslim Association, estimated total attendance at over 2,000 people.[15] The funeral was led by Imam Mohamed Hachimi[16] and a family statement was read by Imam Sikander Hashmi of the Kanata Muslim Association.[14] Mayor Jim Watson spoke at the funeral.[5]

The Canadian Somali Mothers' Association called for two officers to be removed and the Canadian Council of Muslim Women requested a critical look at the case.[17]

In late August, Black Lives Matter's Toronto chapter protested the SIU in Mississauga in response to Abdi's death.[18]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Today's police incident on Hilda". 24 July 2016.
  2. ^ a b Harford, Evelyn; Yogaretnam, Shaamini (26 July 2016). "Ottawa man Abdirahman Abdi dies after confrontation with police". Ottawa Citizen.
  3. ^ "Ottawa police officer charged with manslaughter in death of Abdirahman Abdi". National Post. 6 March 2017.
  4. ^ "How a black man died after encounter with Ottawa police: What we know so far". The Globe and Mail. 3 August 2016.
  5. ^ a b c d 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
  6. ^ 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)
  7. ^ Yogaretnam, Shaamini (28 July 2016). "'He groped me': Witness describes coffee shop confrontation before Abdi arrest".
  8. ^ a b c "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.
  9. ^ "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.
  10. ^ "2 officers under investigation in death of Ottawa man identified". CBC. July 26, 2016. Retrieved September 2, 2016.
  11. ^ Nease, Kristy (6 March 2017). "Ottawa police officer charged with manslaughter in man's 2016 death". CBC News.
  12. ^ "SIU Lays Charges against Officer in Relation to Death of Abdirahman Abdi". Special Investigations Unit. Retrieved 6 March 2017.
  13. ^ Harford, Evelyn (2 August 2016). "Abdirahman Abdi's family retains lawyer Lawrence Greenspon". Ottawa Citizen.
  14. ^ a b "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.
  15. ^ "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.
  16. ^ Ali, Nimao (27 July 2016). "Supporting the Family of Abdirahman Abdi".
  17. ^ Provencher, Norman (30 July 2016). "Abdi death: Somali moms want cops taken off duty pending SIU probe". Ottawa Sun.
  18. ^ "Black Lives Matter protesters hit SIU headquarters". Toronto Star. 24 August 2016.