NCCM responds to charges against police officer in the death of Abdirahman Abdi

-For Immediate Release-

(Ottawa – March 6, 2017) The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), a prominent civil liberties & advocacy organization, says that a criminal trial centering on the actions of a police officer in the death of Abdirahman Abdi should provide both answers and accountability.

Last summer, local police were responding to complaints involving Mr. Abdi at a coffee shop in Ottawa’s downtown. Mr. Abdi, a 37-year-old resident who suffered from mental illness, was chased to his apartment building where he was allegedly pepper sprayed and beaten with batons. Part of the incident was captured on video by witnesses. Mr. Abdi is believed to have bled to death.

The Special Investigations Unit (SIU), an independent civilian oversight body, announced today that it has laid three charges, including a charge of manslaughter, against one of the attending officers.

Constable Daniel Montsion is now facing the following charges under the Criminal Code:

• One count of manslaughter, contrary to section 236(b);
• One count of aggravated assault, contrary to section 268; and
• One count of assault with weapon, contrary to section 267(a).

“We hope that these formal charges mean that there will be a full accounting of what transpired on July 26, 2016 and why,” says NCCM Executive Director Ihsaan Gardee.

“That is what his family, community members, and advocates have been calling for since day one. How could an unarmed, mentally ill, Black man lose his life in this brutal manner at the hands of the police? We also hope to understand how such tragedies can be prevented from ever happening again.”

In the immediate days and weeks following this tragedy, the NCCM worked closely to support the establishment of the Justice for Abdirahman Coalition and worked with various advocates to ensure that community concerns were communicated clearly to police institutions and to government officials. Ten recommendations were presented by the coalition, and endorsed by various organizations including the NCCM.

“Our law enforcement and oversight agencies must maintain trust with the communities they aim to serve,” adds NCCM Communications Director Amira Elghawaby.

“It is critical that justice is not only done, but also seen to be done. In the meantime, the Ottawa Police Service in particular must continue with its outreach efforts to rebuild trust with various communities.”

Earlier this year, the NCCM also provided a submission to Justice Michael Tulloch who was appointed by the provincial government to conduct a review of police oversight bodies.