Abdirahman Abdi fled police after Bridgehead incident, court hears
911 call from witness outside Hintonburg coffee shop played at officer's manslaughter trial
On the morning of his arrest, Abdirahman Abdi initially followed police instructions before bolting down Wellington Street W., court heard Thursday at the trial of the Ottawa officer accused of manslaughter in his death.
The foot chase that followed was just part of a bizarre chain of events that ended when Abdi lost vital signs in a violent altercation with police outside his apartment building on Hilda Street.
Crown witness Darren Courtney, a psychiatrist, testified he first spotted Abdi outside the Bridgehead coffee shop on Wellington Street W. and Fairmont Avenue on July 24, 2016.
Courtney said he called 911 when he saw Abdi thrusting against a woman who was trying to park her bike, her child still strapped into a bike seat.
In a recording of the call played in court Thursday, Abdi can be heard approaching Courtney while he's on the phone.
Some of Abdi's supporters broke down and had to leave the courtroom when they heard Abdi's voice.
Courtney said at the time Abdi appeared calm and even smiled, but Courtney wasn't able to make out much of what he was saying.
Abdi initially followed instructions
Const. Dave Weir arrived while Abdi was interacting with Courtney and told Abdi to put his hands up against a window. Abdi immediately did as he was told, Courtney said.
But when Weir pulled out handcuffs and told Abdi to put one hand behind his back, Abdi tried to run.
According to the testimony, Weir kicked him in the back of the knee and Abdi fell to the ground, then got back up and ran across the street, continuing toward Hilda Street a few blocks away.
Courtney said he saw Abdi pick up what looked like the lid of a garbage can before dropping it and disappearing from view, with Weir in pursuit.
Assaults at Bridgehead
Courtney wasn't the first person to call 911 — the operator was already familiar with the suspect.
The commotion began minutes earlier when customers inside the Bridgehead had to pull Abdi off a woman inside the café.
On Wednesday, Crown witness Michael Rowe testified he was enjoying his usual morning coffee with his wife and sister-in-law when a woman approached him, looked him in the eye and told him she'd just been sexually assaulted.
Before he could react, his wife stood up in her seat and yelled, "Oh my God! That man just jumped that lady," Rowe said.
Rowe rushed to the Wellington Street W. side of the café, where he said he saw Abdi pinning another person to a bench.
He said he tried to pull on Abdi's arm, but Abdi wouldn't move. Rowe put his arm around Abdi's neck and pulled as hard as he could.
A group of customers then corralled Abdi toward the exit as employees called 911.
Rowe said Abdi didn't speak at all during the ordeal inside the Bridgehead, and his face appeared expressionless.
"It was just blank," he said.
Grabbed woman outside
Rowe said was about to rejoin his wife and sister-in-law at their table when someone exclaimed that Abdi had grabbed another woman outside.
He said he looked out to see Abdi holding the arm of the woman who was attempting to park her bicycle at a nearby bike rack, her child still strapped into a bike seat.
Rowe went outside, where he said it appeared Abdi was trying to pull the woman away from her bike and child. Rowe pushed Abdi, who released his grip on the woman.
Rowe returned to the Bridgehead and didn't see what happened next.
Const. Daniel Montsion's defence team told court they'll call the woman with the bike to testify.
Earlier in the trial, Crown counsel Roger Shallows told court nothing that happened before the later altercation between Abdi and police should have any bearing on the criminal charges against Montsion, who pleaded not guilty to manslaughter, aggravated assault and assault with a weapon in Abdi's death.