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Coroner calls inquest into Abdirahman Abdi's death

Abdirahman Abdi, 37, died after a violent altercation with police outside his apartment building in Ottawa's Hintonburg neighbourhood on July 24, 2016.  (Abdi family - image credit)
Abdirahman Abdi, 37, died after a violent altercation with police outside his apartment building in Ottawa's Hintonburg neighbourhood on July 24, 2016. (Abdi family - image credit)

Ontario's Office of the Chief Coroner will hold an inquest into the 2016 death of Abdirahman Abdi following his violent arrest by two Ottawa police officers.

Dates have not yet been announced.

The 37-year-old Somali-Canadian, who struggled with his mental health, died following the confrontation on July 24, 2016.

The initial call to police was about an altercation at a Hintonburg coffee shop where a man was reportedly grabbing women.

Const. Daniel Montsion was called to the scene as backup to another officer, Const. Dave Weir. Abdi ran away and Weir pursued him down the street, using pepper spray and striking him with his baton.

Montsion arrived at the scene and in the ensuing melee punched Abdi several times in the head while wearing reinforced or "plated" gloves.

Officer not guilty, lawsuit settled

Montsion was found not guilty of manslaughter, aggravated assault and assault with a weapon in 2020. Justice Robert Kelly said the Crown had failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Montsion's actions caused Abdi's death.

Ottawa police said in 2021 they had reached a settlement with Abdi's family over a $1.5 million lawsuit. The city's police board said details of the agreement wouldn't be made public.

Abdi's death spawned a movement, driven in part by the Justice for Abdirahman Coalition, that led to increasingly loud calls to reform and defund police.

The coroner's office said it holds inquests before a jury "to inform the public about the circumstances of a death." Any recommendations from the jury are non-binding and are meant to prevent further deaths.

Recent examples include the 2015 murders of three women in and around rural Renfrew County, and Sammy Yatim's fatal shooting by a former Toronto police officer in 2013.

Lawrence Greenspon, the lawyer for the family in the lawsuit settled in 2021, told CBC on Friday the family hopes the inquest looks at the handling of 911 calls, mental health triage and training, and de-escalation.

Information on the inquest's date and location is not yet available, according to a news release.