Montsion trial set to resume today with closing arguments

The manslaughter trial of Ottawa police Const. Daniel Montsion, charged in the fatal 2016 arrest of Abdirahman Abdi, is scheduled to resume today after being delayed due to COVID-19.

Had been scheduled for April but were delayed because of COVID-19

Const. Daniel Montsion, centre, leaves the Ottawa courthouse alongside his legal team and Ottawa Police Association president Matt Skof, left, on Feb. 4, 2019. (Judy Trinh/CBC)

The trial of an Ottawa police officer charged with manslaughter in the fatal arrest of Abdirahman Abdi nearly four years ago is scheduled to resume Monday.

Closing arguments in the trial of Ottawa Police Service Const. Daniel Montsion were initially scheduled to be heard in April, but proceedings were interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Crown and defence attorneys are now set to present their arguments via Zoom video conferencing over the next three days.

Montsion has pleaded not guilty to charges of manslaughter, aggravated assault and assault with a weapon in Abdi's death July 24, 2016.

Montsion punched the 37-year-old in the head several times during an arrest outside Abdi's apartment building in Hintonburg, while wearing gloves with reinforced knuckles. 

Abdi suffered a heart attack and lost vital signs while lying handcuffed and face down. He was declared dead in hospital the next day.

Abdirahman Abdi was a Somali-Canadian man with mental health issuse. He died in 2017 at the age of 37, after losing vital signs during an arrest outside his Ottawa apartment. (Abdi family)

Abdi's death sparked protests across the country and the formation of the Justice for Abdirahman Coalition, which has advocated on behalf of his family and called for police reforms.

The Ottawa Police Service's outreach liaison team was also established after Abdi's death.

report produced by the temporary unit revealed two overarching themes: a fear and mistrust of police, and concerns about leadership, accountability and transparency.

Lawyers make their case

In their final written arguments, Crown attorneys stated that Montsion's conduct during Abdi's arrest demonstrated "a wanton or reckless disregard" for his life and safety.

They suggested the punches delivered by Montsion broke bones in Abdi's face, caused severe brain damage and were a significant factor in his death.

The Crown also argued that Montsion used excessive force for the situation he was confronted with.

Meanwhile, Montsion's defence attorneys contend Abdi showed signs of excited delirium — a condition associated with erratic and potentially dangerous symptoms. 

They've suggested Const. Dave Weir, the other officer on scene during Abdi's arrest, was the one who broke the bones in Abdi's face when he pushed him to the ground.   

Weir testified that he felt Abdi possessed "super-human strength," crediting Montsion with saving his life.  

However, the Crown called that testimony "embellished and exaggerated," pointing instead to what witnesses described and what was caught on surveillance video. 

With files from Laura Osman and Judy Trinh

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