4/20/2019
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Justice for Abdirahman Abdi vigil held on eve of officer's trial


Saturday February 2, 2019
GARY DIMMOCK


Abdirahman Abdi, shown here in a family handout photo, died after a confrontation with Ottawa police in July 2016. HO / THE CANADIAN PRESS

They started marching in a silent, candlelit vigil for Abdirahman Abdi just steps from his front door, where the Somali man died in police handcuffs, bleeding and facedown on a Sunday in July 2016.

Approximately 80 people, including relatives, friends, and Hintonburg neighbours, braved chilling cold to show support for Abdi’s family just days before the start of a trial for the police constable accused of manslaughter.

Some senior officers in plainclothes — including the Ottawa chief and his deputy — attended the nighttime vigil to show respect for the Abdi family and the larger community.



Dozens of people attend the vigil on Friday night, just days before the start of a trial for an Ottawa police officer in connection with the 2016 death of Abdirahman Abdi. DAVID KAWAI / POSTMEDIA

The polarizing case has prompted opposing sides to call for restraint and justice rather than revenge.

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Bob Jamison, a street outreach worker, said he knew Abdi through his work and portrayed the 37-year-old mentally ill man as “a good guy who was harmless.”

“He had his little moments of chaos, when he was struggling, but a little support and a sandwich (and Abdi would be back on track),” said Jamison, known on the street as Bobby Jay.

Jamison said the death of Abdi had been shocking.



Dozens of people attend the vigil on Friday night, just days before the start of a trial for an Ottawa police officer in connection with the 2016 death of Abdirahman Abdi. DAVID KAWAI / POSTMEDIA

“It warms my heart to see this many people here,” he said.

The 10-minute march ended at Bayview Yards, where a crowd 150-strong gathered to pray and to celebrate the life of Abdi.

Just before the march began, Kitchissippi ward Coun. Jeff Leiper tried to explain the need for the vigil.

“This was a traumatizing event that was hard on the community,” Leiper said. “The upcoming trial could re-traumatize a lot of people, so we’re gathering on the eve of the trial to support one another.”

The manslaughter trial of Ottawa Police Const. Daniel Montsion is scheduled to start Monday. Abdi died after an altercation with police who were responding to multiple reports that women had been sexually assaulted inside and outside a coffee shop, including a motorist and another woman standing at a bike rack with her child.

Montsion has pleaded not guilty to manslaughter, aggravated assault and assault with a weapon. He will be represented by top defence lawyers Michael Edelson and Solomon Friedman.

Abdi died at the front door to his residence at 55 Hilda Ave. after being chased on foot by police.

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