Dr. Dawg

To serve and protect in Ottawa [updated]

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abdi abdiraman.jpgTwo days ago, an unarmed, autistic Black man, Abdirahman Abdi, was beaten to death by police, right here in Ottawa, in front of witnesses.

I feel more uncomfortable than perhaps I should in writing this. Several weeks ago Ottawa police officers came to my aid during a violent family situation. They were professional in every respect: prompt, thorough, and restrained in their use of force.

Abdirahman Abdi, on the other hand, was killed after what has been described by witnesses as a savage beating by a number of Ottawa police officers after he had been handcuffed. Medical treatment was delayed. Police attempted, illegally, to seize the cellphones of witnesses who had been filming the assault. (I gather that their owners were having none of that.)

“They were really, really going at him and he was screaming,” said David Thyne, who said he watched the situation from his balcony across the street.

Abdi, 37, was cuffed when he was being beaten, Thyne said. “He was pleading with them to stop.”

Miriam Ali said she went outside after hearing screaming and saw a man lying on the ground.

“He was unconscious and he was sitting in a pool of blood…I came out here and he was lying on his front and there were just like five of six police officers on him,” she said.

Another witness recounted:

“I told the police he’s a crazy man….They hit, they hit, they hit, they hit everywhere. Then he was unconscious.”

And here’s yet another witness, Abdi’s brother:

“I heard the screaming, and then I come out and I see my brother lying down, police hitting so badly. Like, I’ve never seen something like that in my life,” Abdi said.

“All of them, they were on top of him. He was under [them] … they were hitting like [he was] an enemy. I’ve never seen something like that.”

Abdi, in fact, had been so badly beaten that he was dead on arrival at the hospital.

The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) has been called in, which does not fill me with confidence. The SIU is a whitewashing outfit that routinely clears bad cops, even when the facts speak for themselves: Tasering an 80-year-old woman with dementia twice, for example, was held to be appropriate police conduct. The involvement of the SIU also offers a convenient out for Ottawa Police Services, who now refuse to comment or answer any queries about the killing because “the SIU is investigating.” Months will pass—then, based upon past performance, we can expect a quiet exoneration.

Was the killing racially motivated? That question, in fact all of the community’s anxious questions, are very likely to bounce off the blue wall. How can police be made accountable so that unarmed citizens cannot be beaten to death in front of witnesses with impunity? That’s the biggest question of all, of course—and it, too, may well go unanswered.

UPDATE: Const. Daniel Montsion and Const. Dave Weir should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law—or else law has no meaning. And the other officers who looked on should be regarded as accessories. But, as noted, I’m not optimistic.

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This page contains a single entry by Dr. Dawg published on July 26, 2016 9:10 AM.

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