Ottawa

Abdirahman Abdi's family hires lawyer Lawrence Greenspon

The family of Abdirahman Abdi, the 37-year-old Ottawa man who died after what witnesses called a violent arrest last month, has retained Lawrence Greenspon as their legal counsel.

Civil case would have to wait for SIU investigation and any others to conclude, says lawyer

Lawrence Greenspon has been hired on contingency by the family of Abdirahman Abdi, the 37-year-old man who died after a confrontation with police in Hintonburg on July 24. (CBC)

The family of Abdirahman Abdi, the 37-year-old Ottawa man who died after what witnesses called a violent arrest last month, has retained Lawrence Greenspon as their legal counsel.

Greenspon said he has been working for the family since last Wednesday.

Abdirahman Abdi, 37, was a Somali-Canadian with mental health issues whose family moved to Canada eight years ago. He was pronounced dead one day after losing vital signs during a confrontation with police last month. (Abdi family)

He has spoken to members of the family and representatives of the Special Investigations Unit, Ontario's police watchdog, and said any civil proceedings would have to wait for the outcome of the SIU investigation, as well as any other actions.

"If there are criminal charges, then that criminal trial will have to take place ... if, on the other hand, charges are not recommended, then at that point we would proceed possibly to a coroner's inquest," Greenspon said.

"And without a coroner's inquest, we'd then consider beginning the civil action."

Lawyer represented man shot by police in 1991

Greenspon said any possible lawsuit would name the two officers under investigation, Ottawa police Chief Charles Bordeleau, and the Ottawa Police Services Board.

In the 1990s, Greenspon represented the family of Vincent Gardner, a black man who was shot by an officer from the now defunct Nepean police force during a botched drug raid in 1991. That officer was later acquitted of manslaughter.

"As with any bereaved family, there is obviously shock and tremendous grief," Greenspon said, "coupled with an incredible need to know ... all of the details, all of the facts, everything that happened second by second and how it was that Abdi ended up dead."

Abdi's autopsy report will take between three and six months to complete as pathologists process brain and heart tissue samples, among other tests, Greenspon said.

now