'Doctored' video changed pathologist's mind, Montsion's lawyers claim
CCTV footage of Abdirahman Abdi's violent arrest centrepiece of Crown's case against police officer
Lawyers representing an Ottawa police officer charged with manslaughter in the death of Abdirahman Abdi have asked for a nearly three-week adjournment as they contemplate a potential charter challenge that could see the case dismissed altogether.
Const. Daniel Montsion's defence team claims a recently disclosed video showing Abdi's violent arrest in 2016 was "doctored," influencing a pathologist's opinion about what caused the Ottawa man's death.
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On Tuesday, the second day of Montsion's trial, his lawyers argued they need until Feb. 25 to analyze the video and contemplate their next steps.
Montsion pleaded not guilty Monday to charges of manslaughter, aggravated assault and assault with a weapon in the death of Abdi following his arrest outside his Hintonburg apartment building on July 24, 2016.
The arrest was captured by a security camera inside the lobby of 55 Hilda St. The court heard Monday that footage will be a centrepiece of the Crown's case against Montsion.
But Montsion's defence team said they only received the video on Sunday, just hours before the trial began.
"This is the Sunday bombshell that we received," defence counsel Michael Edelson told the court Tuesday afternoon, referring to an email from Crown prosecutors that contained the slowed-down video.
Edelson clarified he's not accusing the Crown of any wrongdoing, and acknowledged the Crown had only just been made aware of the video themselves.
Montsion's defence team is asking the court to give the Crown additional time to find and disclose any additional material, and for the defence to review any new material, including the video.
Possible charter application
Edelson told the court the defence is considering an application that would preclude the Crown from relying on the pathologist's final report, or any opinion that's based on the version of the video disclosed Sunday, as evidence.
The defence is also considering a Charter application alleging abuse of process by the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) for misleading the Crown, the pathologist, the defence and ultimately the courts, Edelson said.
On Tuesday, Edelson read excerpts from emails in court that demonstrated the multiple requests for disclosure of all video material from the Crown and SIU.
Video 'downplayed' force
Earlier in the day, defence counsel Solomon Friedman told the court that the video appeared to show a slowed-down version of the interaction between Abdi, Montsion and Const. Dave Weir, who was the first officer to chase Abdi to the building's entrance that day.
Friedman said the video "downplayed" the amount of force used by Weir to get Abdi on the ground, and removed time stamps from the recording.
According to Montsion's defence team, pathologist Christopher Milroy initially concluded in a draft report that the cause of death was accidental, but changed his conclusion to "homicide" after seeing the converted video.
The Crown told the court it doesn't intend to enter the converted video into evidence. Defence arguments for adjournment will continue Wednesday.