Defence granted adjournment in Montsion trial; resumes February 25

Joanne Schnurr, CTV Ottawa

The manslaughter trial of Ottawa Police Constable Daniel Montsion was adjourned just two days after it got underway.

There is frustration on both sides over the so-called "doctored" version of critical video evidence. The death of Abdirahman Abdi more than two years ago has been divisive, both to this community and to the Ottawa Police force.  So, it's no surprise the trial is gearing up to be equally divisive with the defence raising questions about problems with disclosure and the Crown taking issue with those very allegations.

Cst. Daniel Montsion's defence team came to court on Wedneaday prepared to seek an adjournment in a high-profile case that took a dramatic turn on day two.

Defence lawyers had argued an autopsy on Abdirahman Abdi had been based on what they called "doctored" video.

“Come to court and find out,” Criminal defence lawyer Michael Edelson told CTV Ottawa outside court today, as he and his team entered the courthouse.

It didn't take long to find out that Ontario Court Justice Robert Kelly agreed with an adjournment suggesting the trial reconvene February 25th with the expectation that it can be done in the timeframe allotted: twelve weeks. 

It seems no one was pleased to see the trial adjourned just as it began, even the defence lawyers and they were the ones who asked for it.

“Not happy,” Edelson said as he left court for the day, “Obviously, when you receive disclosure after 30 months on the first day of trial on the Sunday afternoon, it's necessary.”

At the core of this adjournment is concern over as yet unseen video of the interaction between Abdi and Constables David Weir and Daniel Montsion.  The Defence contends a portion of that video was altered, slowed down, and may have played a role in the post-mortem decision on the cause of death.

Crown prosecutors weren't commenting today.

“It wouldn't be appropriate,” said Crown attorney Roger Shallow outside court, “We want a fair process.”

But in court, they told Justice Kelly that clearly they, too, had been impacted by Sunday's disclosure.

“Without question, Crown is ready and prepared to proceed to trial,” Crown attorney Philip Perlmutter said, adding “these allegations by the Defence are very serious.” 

He said the Crown is working very tirelessly with SIU investigators to also deal with this video, which came to light to them just before the trial began.

The trial had just gotten underway Monday with testimony from SIU investigator David Robinson, who had taken photos of much of the evidence at the scene, including the shoes Abdi was wearing that day and his pants, the bloodied uniform that Cst. Daniel Montsion had on and, of course, those reinforced gloves Montsion wore that will play a pivotal part in this trial.  And then there's that 30-pound rubber highway weight that the Crown alluded to in its opening argument we've yet to learn who had it and why. 

It was that SIU investigator, David Robinson, who sent that converted video to the Crown just days before the trial. That video had actually been created more than two years ago, leaving the Defence to wonder why it had taken so long for any of them to get it.