Ottawa police constable charged in death of Black man acted reasonably: defence

Ottawa police constable charged in death of Black man acted reasonably: defence

Ottawa police constable charged in death of Black man acted reasonably: defence

An Ottawa police officer charged in the death of a Black man acted according to his training and the information available to him at the time during the confrontation four years ago, his lawyers argued Monday.

Lawyers representing Const. Daniel Montsion told the court over video conference that their client had no choice but to “engage” with Abdirahman Abdi after being called to assist another officer on July 24, 2016.

By the time he arrived at the scene, Montsion had already heard from a police dispatcher that Abdi was violent and that he had groped women outside an Ottawa coffee shop, defence lawyer Solomon Friedman said in his closing submissions.

The officer also heard Abdi had fled and had been pepper sprayed with no effect, the lawyer said.

As Montsion approached, he saw the other officer kick Abdi and strike him with a baton, with Abdi blocking some of the blows, Friedman said. Abdi then turned toward Montsion and, at one point, reached towards his shoulder, the lawyer said.

“There’s no question (Montsion) is presented with a situation he has to react to,” Friedman said.

“This is not a case where de-escalation plays a role. Const. Montsion had a duty to act, and he acted,” he said.

Montsion is charged with manslaughter, aggravated assault and assault with a weapon in Abdi’s death. He was one of two officers involved in the altercation.

Prosecutors allege he used more force than was reasonable as he assisted in arresting Abdi. They allege a series of punches to the head delivered shortly after Montsion arrived were a significant factor in Abdi’s death.

The incident took place shortly after police were called to a coffee shop in response to reports of a man causing a disturbance.

Police then caught up to Abdi a few blocks away outside his apartment building. Cellphone videos that emerged at the time showed the man lying on his stomach, handcuffed, while two constables held him down.

Abdi, a 37-year-old Somali-Canadian man, lost vital signs during the incident and died in hospital the next day. His death sparked several protests in Ottawa, as well as in Toronto and Montreal.

During Monday’s virtual hearing, Friedman showed security footage of Montsion’s arrival at the scene, arguing it shows Abdi was not merely “passively resisting,” as he said prosecutors suggested.

At one point, Abdi and Montsion are largely hidden from view, and the officer appears to strike out at the other man.

Friedman said his client was attempting to deliver “a series of distractionary blows to the face” but added it’s unclear from the video if they landed and with what force.

That, the lawyer argued, was one of several reasonable options for the officer given the information he had.

“Const. Montsion chose the calibrated use of force that was required to subdue Mr. Abdi,” he said.

The defence is expected to continue its submissions Tuesday, followed by the Crown. The hearing was initially scheduled for April but was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on July 20, 2020.

Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press

Police

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Advocate file image
Red Deer COVID cases continue to decline

249 cases in Red Deer, down from 565 peak on Feb. 22

Cilantro and Chive Owner Rieley Kay (centre) and Guest Chef City Councillor Cara Hoekstra (right) hand over a donation of more than $1,000 to he Lacombe and District Historical Society, care of Executive Director Melissa Blunden at the Michener House Museum and Archives. (Photo Submitted)
Over $1,000 donated to Lacombe and District Historical Society

The donation came from the proceeds from the February Burger of the Month at Cilantro and Chive

File photo
Gov’t of Alberta identifies estimated 300 new COVID-19 cases Sunday

Online COVID-19 dashboard unavailable as upgrades being completed

COVID
Red Deer down to 313 active cases of COVID-19

Alberta reports an additional 411 COVID-19 cases

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

A SAGA member (left) poses as Jessi Hanks (right) with Castle Restaurant puts up a safe space sticker to display on the restaurant’s front door. Shaela Dansereau/ Pipestone Flyer.
SAGA Wetaskiwin works with local businesses to display they are a safe space

The safe space stickers show that its a safe and inclusive space.

David and Collet Stephan leave for a break during their appeal hearing in Calgary on Thursday, March 9, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Alberta Appeal Court orders 3rd trial for parents in toddler’s meningitis death

Stephans were accused of not seeking medical attention sooner for Ezekiel, who had meningitis when he died

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Vaccine hesitancy decreases in B.C. as mass immunizations set to begin: poll

Two-thirds of British Columbians, and Canadians, would get the vaccine as soon as possible

A woman walks through Toronto’s financial district on Monday, July 30, 2018. A new poll suggests most Canadians believe there’s still a long way to go to achieve gender equality in this country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
Canadians, especially women, say gender equality not achieved in Canada: Poll

Poll results themselves underscore the challenge, with more men believing equality had been achieved

This image provided by Harpo Productions shows Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex, left, in conversation with Oprah Winfrey. (Joe Pugliese/Harpo Productions via AP)
Race, title and anguish: Meghan and Harry explain royal rift

Meghan said she struggled with concerns within the royal family about her son’s skin colour

Kiara Robillard is seen in an undated handout photo. When the pandemic began, Robillard had to rush back home to Alberta from California, where she had been living for five years, after she was struck by a truck that broke her spine in two places. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Kiara Robillard, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
‘It kind of clicks:’ Text4Hope program helps with depression, anxiety during pandemic

Participants receive one text message every morning for three months

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Supporters rally outside court as Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church is in court to appeal bail conditions, after he was arrested for holding day services in violation of COVID-19 rules, in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
‘Law remains valid:’ Pastor accused of violating health orders to remain in jail

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is representing the pastor

Most Read