Community yearns for closure for Abdirahman Abdi's death

Members of the Justice for Abdirahman Coalition say they’re still yearning for answers three years after Abdirahman Abdi lost vital signs outside of his Hintonburg apartment building. 

His violent arrest happened 3 years ago today

Abdirahman Abdi, 37, died after a violent altercation with police outside his apartment building in Ottawa's Hintonburg neighbourhood on July 24, 2016. (Supplied)

Members of the Justice for Abdirahman Coalition say they're still yearning for answers three years after Abdirahman Abdi lost vital signs outside of his Hintonburg apartment building. 

Abdi, 37, was involved in a police chase down Wellington Street W. after an officer attempted to arrest him outside of a Bridgehead coffee shop on July 24, 2016.

Police had been called to reports of women being assaulted at the café.

The chase ended outside of 55 Hilda St., where another officer joined the altercation, punching Abdi several times in the head before police were able to wrestle him to the ground and into handcuffs.

Abdi lost vital signs and though he was resuscitated at the hospital, he died the next day.

Const. Daniel Montsion has pleaded not guilty to manslaughter, aggravated assault and assault with a weapon in Abdi's death, and has been in court to face those charges since February. 

Still waiting

Tonight members of the community will gather to mark Abdi's death.

But the wait for answers has been arduous and difficult for the community to bear, said Dahabo Ahmed-Omer, a spokesperson for the Justice for Abdirahman Coalition.

"We're very much looking forward to … getting some answers to the long standing questions we've had for three years now," she said.

Dahabo Ahmed-Omer, a spokesperson for Justice for Abdirahman, stands in the doorway of the building where Abdirahman Abdi was arrested. (Laura Osman/CBC)

People want to know not only what happened to Abdi and how he died, but what can be done now to prevent future deaths, to help people heal and find harmony with city police, she said.

"These are a lot of hard questions that we're hoping that the justice system is able to answer for us," Ahmed-Omer said. 

Even after the trial has ended, she said it could take even longer for the community to find closure.

"I don't know what that looks like for us yet. As a community we are still very much grieving over the death of our brother," she said. 

"We are very much grieving over the broken relationship with the Ottawa Police Service, so closure is a very distant concept for us."

Trial on hold

Montsion's trial was put on hiatus for the summer while the lawyers search for more court time to continue to hear the case. 

The proceedings have run much longer than initially anticipated, with lengthy delays and accusations of mishandled evidence

The trial is expected to resume in September. The next court dates will be decided later this week.