Ottawa man Abdirahman Abdi dies after confrontation with police

Ottawa man Abdirahman Abdi dies after confrontation with police
Postmedia News
First posted: Monday, July 25, 2016 07:02 PM EDT | Updated: Monday, July 25, 2016 10:59 PM EDT
Abdirahman Abdi died on Monday afternoon, a day after a confrontation between him and police prompted a Special Investigations Unit probe into how the 37-year-old Somali-Canadian man suffered fatal injuries during his arrest.
In a statement, the SIU said Abdi attempted to elude arrest and led police on a foot chase through Hintonburg in the Wellington Street West and Fairmont Avenue area on Sunday morning, the SIU said in a release.
The SIU said police confronted a man outside 55 Hilda St. and that “at some point during the confrontation, the man suffered medical distress.”
The SIU — a civilian oversight agency — investigates cases resulting in serious injury, death or sexual assault when police are involved.
The details around what happened between Abdi and police remain scattershot and incomplete. The Ottawa police and SIU have said little because the investigation is ongoing. However, witness accounts have shed some light on the events that led to Abdi’s death.
Witnesses who spoke with Postmedia said the man was beaten by multiple officers as he tried to run into an apartment building on Hilda Street.
“You can’t go against five cops at once,” said witness Asli Mohamed. “It was unnecessary.”
Witnesses also said Abdi lay unconscious on the ground for about 10 minutes minutes before paramedics arrived and began administering CPR.
However, on Monday, Ottawa police Chief Charles Bordeleau said officers called paramedics 23 seconds after Abdi collapsed. He said officers also administered CPR.
One person with knowledge of the investigation said police only started administering CPR several minutes after Abdi collapsed after being told to do so by the first responders.
Mohamed, 20, a former resident of the apartment building, said she overheard police calling for backup before calling in paramedics. She said she saw blood “all over the place.”
“It was weird that they didn’t (immediately) call paramedics,” she said. It took way too long. Everything was moving very slowly.”
Police were initially called by staff at the Bridgehead café on Wellington Street West, near Fairmont Avenue. Multiple people interviewed on scene said they heard Abdi had been “harassing” a woman at the coffee shop.
Bordeleau said the police received multiple calls about Abdi’s alleged “assaultive” behaviour.
The chief said the behaviour continued and then a foot pursuit began, culminating in the arrest on Hilda Street.
After Abdi was subdued and handcuffed he lay bleeding on the sidewalk for more than 10 minutes before he was given medical attention, according to one witness.
A 27-minute video recorded by a witness and obtained by Postmedia, shows Abdi, his wrist cuffed behind his back and his pants pulled down, face down for nearly 10 minutes before paramedics arrived, examined him, removed his handcuffs and started CPR. It is another 15 minutes before Abdi is loaded into an ambulance and taken to hospital.
Off camera, screams and yelling can be heard.
“I think he’s dead,” one woman can be heard yelling. “Where’s the ambulance, he’s going to bleed to death.”
Nearby, witnesses said officers attempted to seize cellphones from bystanders who were recording the incident.
Abdi was described by Nimao Ali, a family friend of almost 20 years and a resident of the Hilda Street apartment building, as someone “struggling with mental illness.”
However, she said he lived a relatively normal life.
“Even though he was struggling … there was a time he was working, there was a time he was going to school. So he lived same as everybody else,” she said.
Abdi arrived in Canada in 2009 and wasn’t as comfortable speaking English, Ali said. She said if someone was speaking English to him he wouldn’t always be comfortable. She also described him as a kind and caring man.
“He was kind and gentle and a happy smiling person — very respectful. If you even take an elevator with him he’d hold the door.”
Ali was echoed by Abdi’s brother, Abdiaziz Abdi, 27.
“My brother was kind-hearted, he was helpful and friendly. He used to work at the car wash and he would send his money back to Somalia to help family,” he said.
And late on Monday afternoon, Jeff Leiper — the councillor for Kitchissippi Ward, where Abdi lived — released a statement shortly following news of Abdi’s death.
“This afternoon, I received word that Abdirahman Abdi passed in hospital. I cannot express fully my grief. My deepest condolences to his family and friends.
“In the past hours, we have received numerous expressions and sympathy from Kitchissippi residents. They have made numerous offers of help, and I have passed on to the family the community’s willingness to help they and their neighbours at this very difficult time. My thanks to everyone who has written.”

Ottawa man Abdirahman Abdi dies after confrontation with police | Canada | News
Bloody Baptists.
New raw video of Abdirahman Abdi released, subject officers ID'd
By Shaamini Yogaretnam
First posted: Tuesday, July 26, 2016 04:57 PM EDT | Updated: Tuesday, July 26, 2016 10:56 PM EDT
Raw video taken in the moments after Ottawa police grounded and arrested a man who is now dead has been posted to YouTube.

The video, which depicts 37-year-old Abdirahman Abdi already on the ground bleeding, with his pants off of his waste and his face on the pavement, was shared on YouTube Tuesday morning, two days after the police altercation that has sent shockwaves through the community.
It’s not clear from the video, which shows only what happened while police waited for paramedics, what happened in the minutes prior. No use of force by police is captured on video. It’s not clear if at the time the video was filmed whether Abdi was conscious or breathing.

The video shows Abdi on the ground and several officers, one of whom maintains a hand on him, around him. The events around his arrest are subject to an investigation by the Special Investigation Unit, Ontario’s civilian police watchdog.
The subject officers of an Ontario civilian watchdog probe into the arrest of an Ottawa man who is now dead have been identified, and new raw video of the moments following the arrest has been posted online.

The video, which depicts 37-year-old Abdirahman Abdi already on the ground bleeding, with his pants off of his waist and his face on the pavement, was shared on YouTube Tuesday, two days after a bloody police altercation that has sent shockwaves through the community.

It’s not clear from the video, which shows only what happened while police waited for paramedics, what happened in the minutes prior. No use of force by police is captured on video. It’s not clear if Abdi was conscious or breathing at the time the video was filmed.
The video shows Abdi on the ground and several officers, one of whom maintains a hand on him, around him. A group of officers and a patrol sergeant are present.

Patrol Const. Dave Weir, one of the subject officers in the Special Investigations Unit probe is identified in the video by his name badge. Postmedia has identified the other subject officer as Const. Daniel Montsion, an anti-gang officer who responded to the call. The video appears to have been taken from behind the glass front door of Abdi’s apartment building at 55 Hilda St. The officers’ conversation is not audible and only wails from people within the building can be heard.

The video can be seen here. Warning: the content is graphic.

While the captions on the uploaded video assert that police killed Abdi, what exactly happened on Sunday morning is currently under investigation by the SIU. What is known is that police responded to 911 calls reporting Abdi grabbing women’s breasts inside a Hintonburg coffee shop – a Bridgehead location at the corner of Fairmont Avenue and Wellington Street West, and down the street from an administrative police building at 19 Fairmont Ave.

Once police arrived, they found Abdi. Police Chief Charles Bordeleau said Monday that the man continued to be “assaultive.” He fled the area and police pursued. He was physically taken down by officers some 270 metres away on Hilda Street. Police sprayed him with pepper spray, hit him with batons and used physical force. Witnesses have described the take-down as a beating.

Police arrested and handcuffed Abdi. He is seen cuffed in the newly released video. But at some point in that sequence of events, the SIU believes he suffered “medical distress.” He was taken to hospital in critical condition, but was pronounced dead on Monday.

The SIU has designated Weir and Montsion as their subject officers.

Sources have told Postmedia that both are experienced officers who are well respected by their peers, many of whom feel for their colleagues who are currently the subject of public and watchdog scrutiny for actions that individual officers and the police union fear are being prematurely taken out of context.

Neither Montsion nor Weir has any discipline on record, according to Postmedia archives of police disciplinary hearings.
In 2008, Montsion was commended for volunteering some 514 collective hours with other police recruits to help a women’s charity while enrolled in police college.

In 2013, Weir received an commendation from his supervisor for demonstrating skill, good judgment and dedication and a high standard of police conduct or humanitarianism.

A 2005 letter of commendation from staff at a downtown homeless shelter named several officers, including Weir. A staff member wrote that they had gratitude and respect for “those officers who are assigned to deal with the many different kinds of possible volatile and sensitive issues arising from dealing with the homeless population,” a population that includes people with mental illness.

“I think that they are so criticized so much at times by people who don’t understand the situations that these devoted officers have to deal with day in day out,” the letter writer wrote.
YouTube video screen grab of Abdirahman Abdi outside his front steps following arrest.


New raw video of Abdirahman Abdi released, subject officers ID'd | Ontario | New

Community questions role of race in Abdi's death
By Evelyn Harford, Postmedia Network
First posted: Tuesday, July 26, 2016 07:26 PM EDT | Updated: Tuesday, July 26, 2016 11:00 PM EDT
As a community mourns the loss of Abdirahman Abdi, the Somali-Canadian who died in hospital the day after a violent arrest by Ottawa police, there are questions about what role, if any, race played in the altercation.

Those who witnessed the arrest at their Hintonburg doorstep on Sunday morning said they believe Abdi’s treatment at the hands of Ottawa police “seemed” race-related.

It’s the “first thing that comes to mind,” said the family’s spokesperson Nimao Ali prior to the announcement of Abdi’s death on Monday afternoon.

“I think that we all have a lot of questions and through time I’m hoping we’ll get more answers,” she said. “It is important for the community to pull together and say, ‘No, we’re not going to allow this – it has to stop.’

“We have to do right by our victims and whoever is doing something wrong, bring them to justice.”

Public outcry has erupted online in support of Abdi’s family through #JusticeForAbdi.
The shock of Abdi’s death prompted Ihsaan Gardee, the executive director of the National Council of Canadian Muslims, to release a statement on Tuesday calling for “a thorough investigation” into Abdi’s arrest and subsequent death.

“Many members of the Ottawa Muslim and Somali communities have serious concerns about how this tragic incident unfolded, including whether prejudice had something to do with Mr. Abdi’s treatment,” he said.

The SIU (Special Investigations Unit), a civilian police watchdog that investigates circumstances involving civilians and police resulting in serious injury, death or allegations of sexual assault, began their investigation on Sunday.

Mayor Jim Watson said in a statement on Tuesday, two days after the arrest, that he is confident the SIU will conduct “a fair and thorough investigation” that will provide “comprehensive insight” into Sunday’s altercation.

He also expressed his condolences to Abdi’s family.

“It is always concerning when a life is lost in our city, and my thoughts are with Mr. Abdi’s family and friends during this difficult time,” he said.

In light of Abdi’s death a meeting has been called for leaders in the local Somali community to discuss how to move forward with a unified voice, said Abdourahman Kahin the founder of Ottawa group Muslim Presence, who will be attending the meeting on Tuesday evening.

Kahin, who was a neighbour of Abdi’s over a decade ago, said he was surprised by Abdi’s death after being arrested because the community didn’t have problems with police when he was living there.

“It’s not normal,” he said. “They way (the police) acted was not reasonable.”

But despite his shock, Kahin said the community shouldn’t be quick to “ethnicize” Abdi’s encounter with police without having all the facts. He said the community should wait for the result of the inquiry to determine whether race was a factor in Abdi’s arrest and death.

“We easily fall to the trap of the emotions to say, ‘Us against them,'” he said. “Especially what’s gone on now in America. We don’t want that kind of thing to happen, we don’t experience the same things as in America – especially in Ottawa.”

Kitchissippi ward Coun. Jeff Leiper, who spoke to Postmedia on Sunday, said police have been “fantastic community partners” in the neighbourhood where Abdi was arrested.

“You know I am looking forward to finding out what happened from the investigation, but I do trust that this is a fairly isolated incident,” he said.

Questions were raised on Sunday about the relationship between police and residents, said Leiper.

He said he looks forward to working with various community partners including the building management at 55 Hilda St. and Ottawa police to ensure the community’s relationship with officers is “as healthy as it can be.”

Ottawa police have a diversity and race relations section dedicated to outreach with communities across the city when instances like Abdi’s arrest arise. Part of the section’s mandate is to “develop appropriate responses to issues arising within racialized communities.”

Ottawa police Cst. Chuck Benoit said that the community does “a lot of outreach” with the Somali population in Ottawa.
So far, neither the Ottawa Muslim Association nor Muslim Presence has been approached for dialogue with police about Sunday’s incident.

The family was not available for comment Tuesday, as their spokesperson said they were not speaking with media anymore.
Handout photo of Abdirahman Abdi.

Community questions role of race in Abdi's death | Canada | News | Toronto Sun
'He groped me': Witness describes coffee shop confrontation before Abdi arrest
By Shaamini Yogaretnam
First posted: Thursday, July 28, 2016 06:43 PM EDT | Updated: Thursday, July 28, 2016 08:59 PM EDT
Abdirahman Abdi was being physically restrained by civilians before police showed up in response to 911 calls that would begin a series of events ending with the man’s death on the front steps of his Hintonburg apartment building, a witness says.
Abdi, 37, was pronounced dead Monday after what witnesses allege was a violent arrest by Ottawa police officers Sunday morning that saw Abdi pepper-sprayed, beaten with batons and left hand-cuffed and lying on his stomach until paramedics arrived to find him without vital signs.

His death has sparked an investigation by the Special Investigations Unit, to determine whether police are criminally responsible for his death, as well as community demands for justice for a black man who many fear was the target of unjust police violence.

Abdi’s interaction with police began around 9:30 a.m. Sunday, when police received multiple calls reporting that he had grabbed a woman’s breast at a nearby coffee shop.

J.M. Duval was at the Hintonburg Bridgehead coffee shop on the corner of Fairmont Avenue and Wellington Street West on Sunday morning, having a coffee and croissant before heading over to the church across the street where he sings in a choir.

Between 9:15 a.m. and 9:30 a.m., Duval, who was sitting in the back of the coffee shop near the Fairmont Avenue entrance heard what he called a “kerfuffle” that sounded like a “bar scuffle.” That altercation was happening in the front of the establishment near the Wellington Street West main entrance.

“I heard tables moving, people yelling and screaming and shouting,” Duval said. Then he heard multiple pleas from someone to “Call 911.”

Duval then heard Bridgehead staff telling people to stay inside and that the doors were being locked.

The woman who had allegedly been assaulted was taken to the back area of the restaurant, where Duval spoke to her in French and asked what had happened.
The woman told him repeatedly “He groped me.” After being consoled and comforted, she went back to the front of the restaurant.

Abdi was outside on the sidewalk, being physically restrained by a group of patrons. As many as two of them were holding his arms and a larger group had formed to stop him from fleeing, which Duval says he was actively trying to do. Duval believed that Abdi could also have been trying to get back into the establishment.

Duval eventually left the coffee shop when employees unlocked the doors. As he left, he saw several police cruisers coming down Wellington Street West. He didn’t witness any of their interaction with Abdi.

Police arrived at the Bridgehead and, at some point, Abdi fled and they chased after him. Sources say police observed Abdi frothing blood from his mouth before physically engaging with him. Less than 300 metres later, Abdi was face-down on his doorstep at 55 Hilda St., a building run by the Ottawa Community Immigrant Services Organization.

Executive director Leslie Emory said Abdi’s family is confused, grieving in private but also showing tremendous wisdom and poise as they grapple with what’s happened.

For the organization, and the residents of 55 Hilda St., there continue to be questions about what happened to Abdi and why.

“We’re very prepared to allow the SIU to conduct its process and determine culpability,” Emory said. “We’re not prepared to just wait for that before engaging with the community, supporting the community to understand or come to terms with what’s happened here and start to explore what may have been underlying this.”

“We have a vulnerable individual, he’s a member of a visible minority, he’s known to have mental health issues and somehow something escalated to the point at which there was an altercation and he died,” she said. “Any way we look at that, that shouldn’t be the outcome.”

Abdi’s funeral is set for Friday.

The SIU continues to investigate. (external - login to view) (external - login to view)
Handout photo of Abdirahman Abdi.

'He groped me': Witness describes coffee shop confrontation before Abdi arrest |
Hundreds attend Abdirahman Abdi funeral, family seeks 'open, transparent' investigation
First posted: Friday, July 29, 2016 09:26 AM EDT | Updated: Friday, July 29, 2016 09:48 PM EDT
Mayor Jim Watson’s office has confirmed he will attend the funeral today for Abdirahman Abdi at the city’s main Muslim mosque on Northwestern Avenue at 12:30 p.m.

“At the request of the family, Mayor Watson is attending Mr. Abdi’s funeral today,” the mayor’s office said in a release.

Police Chief Charles Bordeleau said Friday morning he would not be attending the funeral but there are “Somali officers who will be attending along with their community.”

Abdi died following a violent confrontation with Ottawa police in front of his Hintonburg apartment building last Sunday.

Watson has been on vacation at an undisclosed location.
The family of Abdirahman Abdi demanded answers, but said they are trying to be patient while the wait for the findings of an “open and transparent” investigation into his death.

“He was such a kind-hearted person. What occurred to him that Sunday wasn’t fair at all,” the family said in a prepared statement read at Abdi’s funeral Friday by Imam Sikander Hashmi from the Kanata Muslim Association.

“It shouldn’t be justified by any means. No human being, especially someone as innocent as him, deserved to pass away like that.”

It was the family’s first public statement since Abdi’s death Monday, the day after a violent confrontation with Ottawa police. Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit is investigating the actions of two Ottawa officers in the minutes between when police were called to a Hintonburg coffee shop for a man allegedly fondling a woman to when a bleeding and handcuffed Abdi was taken to hospital without vital signs.
“Abdirahman’s loss has taken an unimaginable toll on our family, friends, neighbours and all who knew him through work and school. We all have many questions, but we are trying to be as patient as possible as the investigation is in progress,” they said.

“We need answers.”

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.

Mayor Jim Watson, Kitchissippi Ward Coun. Jeff Leiper, and MPPs Yasir Naqvi, Bob Chiarelli and John Fraser were among the dignitaries who attended. Police chief Charles Bordeleau was not, although several Ottawa officers, in civilian clothes, did attend.

Watson, who was out of the city at the time of Abdi’s death, met briefly with Abdi's parents before the funeral and thanked them for inviting him to participate.

Watson said he was “inspired” by the strength and resilience shown by the Somali community.
“During these difficult and challenging times we need to continue to work together to overcome dividing forces and strive to emerge more unified than before,” Watson said.

“It is always difficult for a family to say goodbye to loved ones. But it’s much more difficult when there are so many questions that come out of the circumstances around his death,” said Chiarelli, MPP for Ottawa West-Nepean.

“In the weeks and months to come we will have to look for answers, but I’m 100 per cent confident that our community will build on this experience to make a better community.”

Chiarelli mentioned the death three years ago of his own son, who suffered from schizophrenia. Abdi, too, suffered from mental illness.

“I know the challenges of mental illness,” he said, noting that it was an area “where we can make very significant improvements.”
In their statement, the family described Abdi as an “amazing son and brother and a kind-hearted uncle.” He was someone who was quiet and kept to himself. He was shy around women, they said.

“We cannot recall a moment we’ve seen him get angry.”

After Friday’s prayers, Abdi’s plain wooden coffin, covered in a green and gold shroud, was borne to the front of the mosque for final prayers before being taken for a private burial.

His family said they won’t make any further statement and asked for privacy.

Hundreds attend Abdirahman Abdi funeral, family seeks 'open, transparent' invest
'Justice for Abdirahman Abdi': Protesters march through downtown Ottawa
Aidan Cox
First posted: Saturday, July 30, 2016 03:23 PM EDT | Updated: Saturday, July 30, 2016 09:31 PM EDT
Several hundred people gathered Saturday at Somerset Square, at Wellington and Somerset streets, to honour Abdirahman Abda before beginning a protest march to police headquarters on Elgin Street.
Demonstrators marched to the entrance of Ottawa police headquarters Saturday to voice their outrage over last week's death of Abdirahman Abdi.
The crowd, made up of a few hundred people, wound its way from Somerset Square Park to the station at 474 Elgin St., bunching up against orange wooden barricades that separated protesters from about a dozen police officers who stood in front of the building's tinted glass doors.
"We cannot 'bridge' anything. The bridge was burnt when the Ottawa police chose to kill Abdirahman Abdi," said protester Amran Ali, a member of the Canadian Somali Mothers Association, through a megaphone.
Abdi, a 37-year-old member of Ottawa's Somali community, died Monday after a confrontation with several Ottawa police officers in Hintonburg. Witnesses have said police were called to a Bridgehead coffee shop around 9 a.m. after Abdi allegedly grabbed a female customer's breast. Police chased Abdi to his Hilda Street apartment, where witnesses said he was pepper-sprayed, beaten with batons and left handcuffed on the ground until paramedics arrived to find him without vital signs. The SIU is investigating to determine whether police should be held criminally responsible for his death.
Ali said she was "dismayed, horrified and disgusted" with statements of Ottawa police Chief Charles Bordeleau.
"You claim that you cannot comment on what’s going on, yet you go and give interviews with Ottawa media and talk about how this incident was not about race before the (SIU) investigation finishes," she said.
Ali also took issue with Bordeleau's statement that Ottawa police have been subject to taunting from the public in the wake of Abdi's death.
"You also shouldn’t be going on the news telling people about how your officers are feeling scared or insecure because people are taking videos of them. I'm sorry, you are civil servants — you wear that uniform, we pay your salaries. The least we can do is videotape," Ali said.
Demonstrators, including Ali, accused police standing at the station's entrance of "smiling."
"You are laughing, you are smirking, you think this is funny. You know why? Because you are white supremacists!” shouted Ali across the barricade at the row of uniformed men and women.
The demonstration posed a stark contrast to the scene at St. Luke's Park only hours earlier, where the Ottawa Police Service had played a friendly basketball game against members of the community.
Ontario Attorney General Yasir Naqvi, an Ottawa Centre MPP, organizes the game annually and said its aim is to bring the community and the police together.
Doing the ceremonial the tip-off was Chief Bordeleau, who described the event as "an opportunity for us to interact with the community — specifically the young Somali community.
"I think it's these types of events that have helped us build that relationship of trust between the police and the community and we recognize that that’s been breached right now, we have to work hard at it," Bordeleau said.
When asked about controversy surrounding alleged biases within the police force, Bordeleau said it's an issue the OPS has been addressing with the launch of a training program he called the fair and impartial policing program.
"It's an outstanding program that speaks very much to those unconscious biases that every human has and to ensure that you recognize those and that those biases don’t impact your decision-making," Bordeleau said.
"We all have biases around different things. We’re human beings, we’re wired that way, but it's to be able to recognize those and to make sure your decision-making doesn’t get influenced by those."
Later, at the demonstration outside the police headquarters, demonstrator R.J. Pate read out a list of demands for the Ottawa police. They called for the SIU report into Abdi's death to be released publicly once it's complete; they urged police to put the officers involved in the altercation with Abdi on unpaid leave for the duration of the probe; and they demanded that Ottawa police officers be required to wear body cameras.
Abdi's family could not be reached for comment during the demonstration, however a family friend told Postmedia their "grief is still heavy."
"Theirs is anger and the grief from losing someone they love," said Suleikha Ali Yusuf.
"So they are putting up this front that they have it all together so we’re hoping with our support and the support of the spiritual community that they will not fall apart," said Ali Yusuf.
Despite the emotion of the protest, it remained peaceful, with police reporting no incidents. (external - login to view)
Demonstrators march from Somerset Square park to Ottawa Police headquarter on Elgin street during the March for Justice - In Memory of Abdirahman Abdi. Saturday, July 30, 2016.

'Justice for Abdirahman Abdi': Protesters march through downtown Ottawa | Ontari
Bridgehead owner says her staff who phoned 911 should not face blame in death of Somali man
By Jacquie Miller
First posted: Monday, August 08, 2016 03:52 PM EDT | Updated: Monday, August 08, 2016 05:34 PM EDT
An anonymous caller phoned the Bridgehead coffee chain's main office a few days ago and asked for chief executive Tracey Clark. Told she wasn't available, the caller asked to pass along a message.
"Tell her thanks for killing Abdi."

The message clearly shakes Clark. She's seen other comments on social media and heard from customers who say Bridgehead staff should share the blame for the death of Abdirahman Abdi on July 24. And that's unfair, said Clark in an interview Monday.

Her staff acted appropriately by calling 911 after Abdi allegedly assaulted several people at a Bridgehead shop on Wellington Street, she said.
Abdi, a Somali man whose family says was mentally ill, died after a violent confrontation with police responding to the 911 call. The provincial Special Investigations Unit, which is called when police are involved in a death, is investigating. Some people in the Somali and black communities have raised cries of police brutality and racism.

"I get it," said Clark. "They are obviously very, very upset. They obviously see it as state violence by people in uniform against marginalized populations, and they see this as part of a pattern. I understand that, and can accept that.

"However, that is the police reaction. It is not what happened in our store."

Both Bridgehead staff and customers phoned 911 after Abdi allegedly assaulted "more than one" woman at the coffee shop, said Clark. She was not there, but talked to staff who were. (Postmedia interviewed one witness who said he spoke to a woman at the coffee shop who said she was groped.)

Staff "did absolutely what they should have done in that situation, which is call for help," said Clark.

Abdi's race did not play a role in the 911 calls, says Clark. "I flatly reject that. We deal with behaviours as they are presented. And we tolerate a lot of behaviours. But if staff are being harassed, or there is an unsafe situation, that's when they will ask for help."

Customers in the store grabbed Abdi, took him outside and tried to hold on to him until police arrived, she said.

Clark said some people have suggested that Bridgehead staff be trained in how to respond to people who are mentally ill. "I don't know how realistic that is. How much specialized training should a part-time barista who's going to work for us for six to nine month, maybe a year, have for a situation that has a one in a billion probability?"

Clark said the incident at the coffee shop was traumatic for both staff and customers. Now they're also dealing with criticism from the public.

"We've had some customers come into the store and say, 'How is your staff doing? That was a traumatic incident. ' But that was little and far between. What staff more experience was a sense of 'Wow, why did you guys call (911)?' Or when they read the social media comments of 'Wow, a bunch of white people feeling uncomfortable with a black man's behaviour.' That seemed to be the dominant conversation."

A couple days after the death, someone phoned several Bridgehead shops, she said. "They said, "Hi, I have a severely autistic child. I'm thinking of bringing him to Bridgehead. But are you going to call the cops on him and he'll be killed?" (Initial news reports suggested that Abdi had autism.)

Some Bridgehead staff at the Wellington shop have taken time off, asked to be moved to other locations, or received counselling, said Clark. She said the company has tried to support them, and suggested they avoid reading social media.

Clark said staff told her that for several weeks before the incident Abdi had frequently visited the Wellington Street shop, and some customers complained he was making them uncomfortable by staring at them. The shop manager spoke privately with Abdi to ask him if he was aware of the behaviour and how it made people feel, and asked him to stop, said Clark.

Clark said she initially hesitated to comment publicly about Abdi's death, partly for fear of interfering with the SIU investigation and partly because she didn't want the experience of Bridgehead staff to eclipse the more important story of what she calls the "brutal reaction" of the police and the need for justice to be done.

"I totally think the police reaction, and the fact that Mr. Abdi died, is the major story here. But to the extent that people are offering to blame coffee house employees, and coffee house customers, for asking for help, is inappropriate."

Tracy Clark's poem

The CEO of Bridgehead wrote this poem to Adirahman Abdi to describe the feelings of Bridgehead staff

I am not safe if you are not safe.

I knew you

I am eyes on the street, after all

It was not the colour of your skin

I knew you had mental health issues too

But I did not have a choice

You assaulted a customer

I called for help, for you and for me, for the customer you assaulted, for the other customers

The other customers called 911 too, it wasn't only me

I am not safe if you are not safe

I expected the police to help us. You are dead.

Your family is grieving. The community is grieving.

Activists are blaming me. They silence me.

I am feeling guilty.

I am feeling crazy too. Like my experience is invisible.

I am not safe if you are not safe.

We must stand together, all of us (external - login to view)
Bridgehead CEO Tracey Clark says her staff are being unfairly blamed in the death of Abdirahman Abdi because they called 911 after Abdi allegedly assaulted more than one woman at a Bridgehead coffee shop.

Bridgehead owner says her staff who phoned 911 should not face blame in death of
Cop in Abdi case involved in previous violent arrest of Somali-Canadian
Gary Dimmock
First posted: Thursday, September 08, 2016 08:16 PM EDT | Updated: Thursday, September 08, 2016 08:55 PM EDT
Const. Daniel Montsion, one of the Ottawa police officers under SIU investigation in the deadly arrest of Abdirahman Abdi, once panicked in a violent takedown of another Somali-Canadian man.

This was revealed earlier this week when Abdullah Adoyta, 25, was acquitted on gun charges after a judge expressed concerns about the reliability of Const. Daniel Montsion’s sworn testimony about a 2014 police raid.

The constable’s version of events was at odds with Adoyta’s account, and Ontario Superior Court Justice Marc Labrosse noted that Montsion’s story conflicted with a senior officer’s testimony on key points.

Montsion made headlines in July when he was named as one of the officers of a Special Investigations Unit — a civilian police watchdog — probe into the in-custody death of Abdi, who died in police handcuffs at the front door of his apartment building.

During Adoyta’s arrest in 2014, Montsion was one of seven Ottawa police officers who raided an apartment on Baycrest Drive after a report that gang members had taken it over.

He was the second officer to rush in, and testified that he saw Adoyta get up and reach for his waist. Montsion said he then grabbed both of the suspect’s forearms. He told court that when he raised the suspect’s forearms up, his shirt lifted and he saw the grip of a silver semi-automatic handgun. The officer said he panicked and started kneeing Adoyta and ended up taking him to the ground, face down.

The officer described the takedown as a struggle, and once he was on top of the man, he didn’t see a gun fall out. He said he had to move the man to find the gun on the floor, underneath him. Once he had Adoyta in handcuffs, Montsion told fellow officers that he had found a gun. He made a point of telling court that he “sort of panicked” and felt that he should have yelled out about seeing the gun sooner than he did.

However, the judge had a problem with Montsion’s version of events. His story conflicted with the testimony of seasoned Sgt. Mark MacMillan. MacMillan told court that when he heard Montsion yell that he had found a handgun, the sergeant looked over and noticed that Adoyta was not yet handcuffed, so he grabbed the gun immediately. Because Adoyta was not handcuffed, the sergeant said his priority was the safety of other officers so he grabbed the gun with his bare hands instead of using gloves to preserve DNA and fingerprint evidence. The judge said it was a key failure in a circumstantial case, and didn’t accept that officer safety trumped the preservation of evidence.

The judge noted that the “manner in which (Adoyta) was taken down, with Const. Montsion raising Mr. Adoyta’s arms in the air and seeing the handgun in Mr. Adoyta’s waistline is difficult to both understand and accept.”

The judge also noted what he called an important inconsistency in the testimonies of MacMillan and Montsion about Adoyta’s state when MacMillan went to take the gun from Montsion. Beyond their conflicting evidence about whether Adoyta was handcuffed, the judge noted that Montsion testified that he was struggling with Adoyta at the time. But MacMillan told court that Montsion somewhat casually held up the handgun.

“This is inconsistent with the evidence that Const. Montsion was struggling with Mr. Adoyta,” the judge said.

In his ruling that acquitted Adoyta, the judge said Montsion was unable to provide continuity on the location of the handgun throughout his dealings with Adoyta, and noted that the Ottawa constable never distinguished between the grip of the black handgun and Adoyta’s large, silver Gucci belt buckle — during cross-examination Montsion said his notes indicated the grip of the gun was silver rather than black. “He did not acknowledge seeing both,” the judge said in his Sept. 7 decision.

During proceedings, Adoyta took the stand in his own defence.

The man testified that he had been invited by the tenant to the apartment to smoke weed and watch TV. When he saw the cops come in, he decided to “comply” and go to the ground but Montsion grabbed him by the collar and he landed to the side of a couch. He said the constable yelled “gun” about 10 seconds later, when Montsion was on top of him. He then said the officer started punching and kneeing him, and he testified that he saw a handgun on the floor about a foot and a half away from him.

He also testified that he had to resist arrest to protect himself and denied that he was ever grabbed by his forearms. In fact, he denied all of Montsion’s evidence about how he was taken to the ground with a handgun under him. The young man told court that he saw the gun on the floor at the exact moment Montsion was pulling his hair.

In his ruling, the judge said Adoyta did not see a gun on the floor before the police came calling and noted that the accused testified that he was “not suggesting that it was planted by police.”

Adoyta expressed relief this week after he was acquitted.

“My client was relieved and very happy with the acquittal as he always maintained his innocence from the time of the arrest,” said his lawyer, Diane Condo.

His lawyer also noted that in a 2014 police interview, her client told the police to analyze the handgun for his fingerprints because he had nothing to hide.

Montsion, who remains under SIU investigation in the arrest of Abdi, declined to comment for this story.

Some videos posted online following Abdi’s death show only what happened while police waited for paramedics beside the dying and handcuffed man. They did not start CPR until paramedics arrived. Doctors told his family that he was dead 45 minutes before he arrived at hospital. The videos do not capture any use of force by police officers.

Though the captions on the uploaded videos assert that police killed Abdi, what exactly happened on that Sunday morning is still under investigation by the SIU. What is known is that police responded to 911 calls reporting Abdi grabbing women’s breasts inside a Hintonburg coffee shop.

Once police arrived, they found Abdi. Police Chief Charles Bordeleau said Abdi continued to be “assaultive.” He ran away and police pursued. He was taken down by officers some 270 metres away on Hilda Street. Police used pepper spray on him, hit him with batons and used physical force. Some witnesses have described the takedown as a beating.
Const. Daniel Montsion. YouTube

Cop in Abdi case involved in previous violent arrest of Somali-Canadian | Ontari
Wait. . .

Black man accused of sexually assaulting white woman beaten to death by white cops.

Is this Canada or Alabama?
+1 / -1
#10  Top Rated Post
We just one of our white homeless outpatient folk killed by cops in the park
siu is investigating

cops kill handicapped people:
possibly because they are often too stupid, lazy, and full of crap to do their job properly
its genetic I guess, but not racist
Ottawa police officer facing manslaughter charge in death of Abdirahman Abdi | O
no new posts