'Patient is VSA': Dispatch calls from Ottawa man's fatal encounter with police

Seven minutes after paramedics were first called to the scene of where an Ottawa man had been arrested, they requested backup after finding him without vital signs, according to audio from the paramedic dispatch.

Audio from the paramedic dispatch provides a clearer timeline of aftermath of Abdirahman Abdi arrest

Abdirahman Abdi, 37, a Somali-Canadian with mental health issues, moved to Canada with his family eight years ago. He died after an arrest by police on Sunday morning. (Abdi family)

Seven minutes after paramedics were first called to the scene of an Ottawa man's arrest, they requested backup after finding him without vital signs, according to audio from the paramedic dispatch.

Abdirahman Abdi, 37, a Somali-Canadian with mental health issues, was arrested Sunday morning and taken to hospital in critical condition.

Audio from the dispatch calls, provided by Broadcastify, provides some insight into how the call was treated and the time it took to treat Abdi.

Reports of a man groping

Police were called to a coffee shop in the Wellington West neighbourhood of Ottawa about 9:30 a.m. ET after reports of a man groping customers.

Police and witness accounts agree that one officer responded and pursued a suspect to 55 Hilda St.

Witnesses described the arrest as a violent altercation involving Abdi and two Ottawa police officers; the one who initially pursued him, and a second officer who arrived at the scene.

Those officers, now the subjects of the SIU investigation, have since been identified as constables Dave Weir and Daniel Montsion.
Const. Dave Weir, left, and Const. Daniel Montsion, centre, are seen kneeling by Abdirahman Abdi outside his apartment building on Hilda Street. Both officers are the subject of an SIU investigation into Abdi's death. (Still from YouTube video)

Weir is a patrol officer with more than 15 years of experience. Montsion is a police officer with more than 10 years on the police force. He moved to the direct action response team (DART) in 2013, but was helping out on patrol at the time of the call.

Witnesses said Abdi was hit repeatedly with a baton and fists and pepper-sprayed.

Call for paramedic came at 9:52 a.m. ET

It's not clear when exactly Abdi collapsed or when other officers arrived at the scene.

Ottawa police Chief Charles Bordeleau has said paramedics were called 23 seconds after Abdi's collapse.

Audio from the paramedic dispatch shows that the first call for a paramedic vehicle came at 9:52:06 a.m.

The female dispatcher referred to the call as a Code 4 — the highest priority, meaning ambulances should travel with lights and sirens — and said "10-2s on scene," a reference to police.

People have left candles, flowers, a Black Lives Matter sign and a 'Love' sign at the entrance to 55 Hilda St., where Abdirahman Abdi was arrested on Sunday. (Giacomo Panico/CBC)
The dispatcher said police were on scene "with a male unknown age, pepper-sprayed, bleeding from the mouth, unconscious."

Seven minutes later, at 9:59:10 a.m., a paramedic at 55 Hilda St. called to request backup.

"Patient is VSA [vital signs absent], we need another unit for backup please," the paramedic said.

At 10:01:24 a.m. the dispatcher dispatches a second vehicle to the scene, and repeats the details: that the patient was vital signs absent, bleeding from the mouth and had been pepper-sprayed.

Five minutes later the dispatcher takes a call from an unknown man, who asks if there is any update from 55 Hilda St. She says paramedics are reporting a patient with vital signs absent and will know more soon.

1st paramedic began CPR after arrival

Witnesses and video of the aftermath of the arrest show that when the first paramedic arrived at the scene he began CPR on Abdi with the aid of Montsion.

Abdi was taken to hospital in critical condition.

On Monday afternoon, his family said he was dead. A woman speaking for the family at the time said doctors had told the family Abdi had been dead 45 minutes before they saw him, but that they had worked to revive him.

The SIU investigates whenever there is a death, serious injury or allegation of sexual assault involving police in the province. It has assigned five investigators and one forensic investigator to the case.

With files from Judy Trinh