Ottawa police officer charged in death of Abdirahman Abdi

Mourners carry the casket of Abdirahman Abdi in Ottawa, Canada. Photo: 29 July 2016Image copyright

Image caption

At least 600 people gathered for Abdirahman Abdi’s funeral

An Ottawa police officer is facing criminal charges in the death of a Somali-Canadian man who died in a confrontation with police last July.

Constable Daniel Montsion, 36, has been charged with manslaughter, aggravated assault, and assault with a weapon in the death of Abdirahman Abdi, 37.

The charges were announced by Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU) following a seven-month investigation.

The incident sparked a debate about policing and race in the city.

Lawrence Greenspon, the lawyer for Abdi’s family, said on Monday that they met the SIU and two Crown lawyers early in the day and were advised that Mr Montsion would be facing charges.

Mr Greenspon said the family is pleased by the charges after the lengthy SIU investigation.

“They anxiously await the results of what will be an even longer criminal justice process,” he said.

Abdi’s family is also considering taking civil action in the case.

On a Sunday morning last July, police responded to an emergency call from an Ottawa coffee shop. Witnesses there at the time alleged that Abdi had groped at least one woman in the cafe.

Abdi fled on foot, a chase that ended in a confrontation with police a few blocks away. During that interaction, Abdi suffered what the SIU called “medical distress”. He later died in hospital.

Witness video shot after the confrontation with police and posted on YouTube shows Abdi handcuffed and bleeding on the ground.

Mr Montsion was one of two Ottawa police officers involved in that altercation.

His death led to several protests in Ottawa, Montreal, and Toronto and calls for the SIU – which investigates incidents involving police that result in death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault – to publicly release the results of their investigation.

Hundreds of people attended the funeral at an Ottawa mosque, including Mayor Jim Watson.

According to his family, Abdi arrived in Canada from Somalia in 2009.

Mr Montsion appears in court 29 March.

Ottawa police officer charged in death of Abdirahman Abdi