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Canadian cop found not guilty of killing mentally ill black man during arrest


Canadian police officer is found not guilty of killing a mentally ill black man who died following violent 2016 arrest that sparked nationwide protests

  • Ottawa Police Service Constable Daniel Montsion was found not guilty of manslaughter and assault charges on Tuesday
  • He was on trial over the death of 37-year-old Abdirahman Abdi in Ottawa in 2016
  • Abdi died after being hospitalized in critical condition following his arrest 
  • Witnesses had said that Abdi, a Somali immigrant, had been beaten by Ottawa police officers who responded to calls of a disturbance 
  • Ontario Court Justice Robert Kelly on Tuesday ruled he was ‘left with reasonable doubt’ that Montsion’s actions led to Abdi’s death 
  • Abdi’s death sparked widespread protests in Canada four years ago 

A Canadian police officer has been found not guilty of killing a mentally ill black man who died after a violent arrest four years ago in a case the sparked nationwide protests. 

Ottawa Police Service Constable Daniel Montsion was found not guilty of manslaughter and assault charges on Tuesday in relation to 37-year-old Abdirahman Abdi’s death in 2016. 

Abdi died after being hospitalized in critical condition following his arrest in Ottowa.    

Witnesses had said that Abdi, a Somali immigrant, had been beaten by Ottawa police officers who responded to calls of a disturbance.

Ottawa Police Service Constable Daniel Montsion (right) was found not guilty of manslaughter and assault charges on Tuesday in relation to 37-year-old Abdirahman Abdi's (left during his arrest) death in 2016

Ottawa Police Service Constable Daniel Montsion (right) was found not guilty of manslaughter and assault charges on Tuesday in relation to 37-year-old Abdirahman Abdi’s (left during his arrest) death in 2016

A video taken by a bystander showed Abdi in a bloodied shirt lying face down on the ground with his hands cuffed behind him and his pants pulled down before paramedics arrived.

Abdi, a Somali immigrant, died after being hospitalized in critical condition following his arrest in Ottowa

Abdi, a Somali immigrant, died after being hospitalized in critical condition following his arrest in Ottowa

A family spokeswoman said at the time that Abdi had been dead for 45 minutes before arriving at the hospital. 

In his ruling on Tuesday, Ontario Court Justice Robert Kelly said that although the trial was ‘long and difficult’ he was ultimately ‘left with reasonable doubt’ that Montsion’s actions led to Abdi’s death.

The prosecution had argued that unnecessary force was used during the arrest but acknowledged that Abdi had not been taking his prescription medication for a mental health issue and said the arrest was justified.

‘The family was devastated by the decision,’ Lawrence Greenspon, a lawyer for Abdi’s family, told Reuters.

He added, however, that the verdict came as no surprise.

‘The family did not expect that the criminal justice system would be the means to resolve the systemic problems including dealing with people with mental health problems which led to Abdirahman’s death,’ he said. 

Witnesses had said that Abdi, a Somali immigrant, had been beaten by Ottawa police officers who responded to calls of a disturbance. A video taken by a bystander showed Abdi in a bloodied shirt lying face down on the ground with his hands cuffed behind him and his pants pulled down before paramedics arrived

Witnesses had said that Abdi, a Somali immigrant, had been beaten by Ottawa police officers who responded to calls of a disturbance. A video taken by a bystander showed Abdi in a bloodied shirt lying face down on the ground with his hands cuffed behind him and his pants pulled down before paramedics arrived

Abdi's death sparked widespread protests in Canada four years ago. The ruling follows demonstrations in many Canadian cities in recent months that were inspired by those in the United States against police brutality and racism

Abdi’s death sparked widespread protests in Canada four years ago. The ruling follows demonstrations in many Canadian cities in recent months that were inspired by those in the United States against police brutality and racism

The ruling was met with outrage and pain in Canada’s Somali community.

‘For all of us who have been invested in this trial expecting justice, expecting peace, we didn’t get it today,’ said Somali-Canadian playwright Habiba Ali in a video streamed on social media.

‘We knew that justice was not in this world. It is a slap in the face that (the judge) said it’s not even assault.’

One of Montsion’s lawyers, Michael Edelson, said the police officer was looking forward to getting back to work, though he did not know when that would happen.

‘(Montsion) feels greatly relieved that this ordeal is over and is looking forward to going back into service,’ Edelson said.

The death sparked protests in Canada four years ago.

The ruling follows demonstrations in many Canadian cities in recent months that were inspired by those in the United States against police brutality and racism. 

Protesters shout as they arrive at a police station during a protest march in Ottawa back in 2016 following Abdi's death

Protesters shout as they arrive at a police station during a protest march in Ottawa back in 2016 following Abdi’s death

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