Injuries suffered during arrest did not cause Somali-Canadian man’s death: defence

Injuries suffered during arrest did not cause Somali-Canadian man’s death: defence

The injuries suffered by a Somali-Canadian man during an arrest in Ottawa four years ago did not cause or directly contribute to his death, defence lawyers told a police officer’s manslaughter trial Tuesday.

Lawyers representing Const. Daniel Montsion argued in their closing submissions that Abdirahman Abdi had a then-unknown heart condition that was exacerbated by his emotional and physical stress on July 24, 2016.

They told a virtual court hearing that a forensic pathologist found Abdi could have hit a “point of no return” in terms of his health before Montsion even arrived at the scene.

“A point of no return doesn’t mean that death is likely or the person’s unwell, it means that death is inevitable within that period of peril,” defence lawyer Solomon Friedman said.

The arrival of the first police officer, Const. Dave Weir, escalated the stress for Abdi, who ran away and was pepper sprayed in the face twice by that officer, Friedman said.

From that point on, “there are numerous instances where Mr. Abdi may have well been past the point of no return,” he said.

Abdi, 37, suffered a heart attack during the incident and died in hospital the next day.

Prosecutors allege the blows inflicted on Abdi — including punches Montsion delivered to his face with reinforced gloves — caused his fatal heart attack.

Court has heard Abdi suffered significant facial injuries, including a broken nose.

Montsion has pleaded not guilty to manslaughter, aggravated assault, and assault with a weapon.

Prosecutors told the court Tuesday the force used by Montsion was ”completely disproportionate and completely unnecessary,” particularly considering how quickly the confrontation played out.

They argued the officer failed to conduct his own assessment of the situation before jumping into the fray and did not consider any other possible course of action.

Security video of the incident shows Montsion “decided what he was going to do before he reached Mr. Abdi,” prosecutor Phil Perlmutter said.

Montsion had other options, including to simply back off, he added.

“In our submission, Mr. Abdi was contained. In our submission, Mr. Abdi was unarmed. In our submission… Mr. Abdi’s so-called aggressive actions were not as they’ve been characterized by the defence.”

Montsion “knew what those gloves were likely to do when they impact with somebody’s face,” Perlmutter said, and the officer used them as a weapon even though they may not be conceived as such.

The defence acknowledged Montsion swung at Abdi’s face before the man was brought to the ground, but argued the punches were meant as “distractionary blows” and caused no injury.

Lawyer Michael Edelson said security video of the confrontation does not show any bleeding after the punches from his client.

He suggested the injury instead occurred moments later when Abdi was brought to the ground by Weir, saying Abdi went “from standing to face down in a second or less.”

Even if Montsion did break Abdi’s nose, Edelson argued the Crown has not proven the force he used was intended or likely to cause grievous bodily harm.

The defence also argued the gloves Montsion wore, which had reinforced knuckles, were purchased by his supervisor and part of his uniform, and thus should not be considered a weapon.

Police were called to a coffee shop in Ottawa that day in response to reports of a man causing a disturbance.

Court has heard Weir was the first to arrive, but Abdi fled, and the officer caught up to him outside his apartment building a few blocks away. Montsion was called to assist.

The incident sparked several protests in Ottawa and other cities.

Closing submissions were initially scheduled for April but were delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Crown is slated to conclude its submissions Wednesday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on July 21, 2020.

Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press

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

Just Posted

2020 Ponoka business awards
Ponoka chamber 2020 Business Award winners

The Ponoka and District Chamber of Commerce 2020 Business Awards were held… Continue reading

Ryen Williams, 11, with a lost miniature horse at JJ Collett Oct. 23. Photo by Don Williams
UPDATE: Owner found

Father and son found miniature horse while out for a walk at JJ Collett

Alberta has 3,651 active cases of COVID-19. (File photo)
432 new COVID cases sets another record Friday

Central zone holds steady at 126 active cases

(Emily Jaycox/Ponoka News)
Ponoka FCSS’ Empty Bowls sells out

For the first time ever, Ponoka Family and Community Support Services’ (FCSS’s)… Continue reading

"We are looking seriously at the spread and determining what our next steps should be," says Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, as the daily number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb.
427 new COVID cases is highest in Alberta ever

Central zone has 126 active cases of COVID-19

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson, B.C. NDP leader John Horgan and B.C. Greens leader Sonia Furstenau. (Black Press Media)
VIDEO: One day until B.C. voters go to the polls in snap election defined by pandemic

NDP Leader John Horgan’s decision to call an election comes more than a year ahead of schedule and during a pandemic

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

U.S. border officers at the Peace Arch crossing arrested two men on California warrants this week. (File photo)
Ottawa predicts system delays, backlogs unless court extends life of refugee pact

Canada and the United States recognize each other as safe places to seek protection

Conservative member of Parliament Michelle Rempel Garner, left to right, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole and Conservative Deputy Leader Candice Bergen arrive to hold a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
No-confidence showdown over sweeping Tory motion on government handling of pandemic

The Conservative motion is to be put to a vote Monday and has the support of both the Bloc Québécois and NDP

Marissa Cunnington. (Emily Jaycox/Ponoka News)
NARCHC year end horse show photos and results

The Northern Alberta Reined Cow Horse Club (NARCHC) held its futurity, derby… Continue reading

From l-r., first lady Melania Trump, President Donald Trump, moderator Kristen Welker of NBC News, Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden on stage at the conclusion of the second and final presidential debate Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020, at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Trump, Biden fight over the raging virus, climate and race

Republican president declared the virus, which killed more than 1,000 Americans on Thursday alone, will “go away.”

Smartphone showing various applications to social media services and Google. (Pixabay photo)
National media calling for level playing field with Google, Facebook

In Canada, Google and Facebook control 80 per cent of all online advertising revenues

RCMP. (Black Press File Photo)
Calgary man dies in two-vehicle collision near Sylvan Lake

A semi truck collided with a SUV just east of Hwy. 781 on Hwy 11.

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
British Columbia man dies during ski trip near glacier west of Calgary

Kananaskis Public Safety and Alpine Helicopters responded around 2:30 p.m.

Most Read