Bridgehead apologizes for original response to Abdirahman Abdi's death

Bridgehead coffee has issued a public apology for its response to the death of Abdirahman Abdi, who died following a violent altercation with Ottawa police outside his apartment building in 2016.

Coffee company says it should have been an ally after 37-year-old's death

Abdirahman Abdi, 37, died after a violent confrontation with Ottawa police in 2016. (Abdi family)

Bridgehead coffee has issued a public apology for its original response to the death of Abdirahman Abdi.

The 37-year-old Somali-Canadian man, died following a violent altercation with Ottawa police outside the entrance of his apartment building on Hilda Street in Hintonburg on July 24, 2016.

The incident began with multiple 911 calls from a Bridgehead coffee shop nearby, on the corner of Wellington Street West and Fairmont Avenue. It's alleged Abdi assaulted several women inside and outside the establishment before fleeing to his apartment.

After his death, the company's owner, Tracey Clark, told CBC News that "there was a real minimization of what the staff or the customers in the store experienced."

On Thursday, Bridgehead issued a statement on Instagram that read in part, "we recognize we can never fully become an ally [to the Black community] without addressing what took place 4 years ago to Mr. Abdirahman Abdi. A regular customer of ours who was killed by police."

"We should have been an ally then and we weren't. We are sorry. When we did speak, we spoke on the impact his death had on our staff and customers, and not on the greater issue of Mr. Abdi's death. We are truly sorry."

Farhia Ahmed, a co-founder of the Justice for Abdirahman Coalition, said Bridgehead's apology is a start.

"The honest question is: why did it take four years for an apology to be issued?" she asked.

"Nonetheless, an apology is an important piece in moving forward and I think that there's a lot more work and a lot more effort that we need to see in action following these words."

Farhia Ahmed is one of the co-founders of the Justice for Abdirahman coalition. She said although she never met Abdi, his legacy has inspired many in the community. (Idil Mussa/CBC News)

Bridgehead declined CBC's request for more information on its public apology.

Ottawa police Const. Daniel Montsion is currently on trial for manslaughter, aggravated assault and assault with a weapon in relation to Abdi's death.

Closing arguments in the trial are expected to begin later this summer.