Defence lawyers in Cst. Montsion's trial call for adjournment after 'doctored' video

Joanne Schnurr, CTV Ottawa

Day two of the manslaughter trial of Ottawa Police Constable Daniel Montsion today was stopped before it even began. 

Montsion's lawyers called for an adjournment over what they say is "doctored" video on a key piece of evidence. That video is from 55 Hilda Street and shows the interaction between Abdirahman Abdi and two police officers.

Court had not seen that video yet but it's crucial to both sides in this trial.

Criminal defence lawyers Solomon Friedman and Michael Edelson came to court today packing a legal bombshell, questioning why Crown lawyers would disclose critically important information just hours before the manslaughter trial of Cst. Daniel Montsion began.

That information, CCTV footage from the spot where Abdirahman died, is the centrepiece of the case for both the Crown and Defence.

It is time-stamped and marks, second by second, the interaction between Abdi and Constables David Weir and Daniel Montsion. 

But Defence Lawyer Solomon Friedman told Justice Robert Kelly today that a second version of that video had been altered and disclosed to them only on the eve of the trial, Sunday afternoon at 3:50 p.m.

“It appears to us to have been artificially slowed down," Solomon told the Judge, "particularly during the portion where Weir appears to take Abdi to the ground."

He added, that "the second video downplays the force used by Cst. Weir when he took Mr. Abdi down."

It's hard to say where this will all go.  The defence believes this video has been doctored to change the perception of the events in that interaction between Abdi and those two constables. Lawyer Solomon Friedman says his team needs to time to do its own forensic analysis of that video and perhaps a lot more than that.

Solomon wanted to know why the converted video hadn't been disclosed earlier by the Crown.  Then, there's the question of the difference in the two videos that Solomon suggests may have impacted the forensic pathologist who did the post-mortem.

Solomon told court that defence had seen the draft copy of the post mortem report done by Dr. Christopher Milroy, who will be a key witness at this trial.  He says it showed Abdi's nose was broken when he was taken down by Weir and that the manner of death, “in a medical and legal sense, was an accident.”  But in the final report, with what Solomon calls the slowed down version which he says Dr. Milroy viewed during a meeting at SIU headquarters on November 15, 2016, “On the basis of this version, he (Dr. Milroy) concludes the fracture to Mr. Abdi’s nose was probably not caused by him being taken down by (Weir) but by (Montsion’s) fist.”  The manner of death then was determined to be homicide.

Crown lawyer Philip Perlmutter says he just learned of the converted video and wasn't planning on using it as evidence anyway. Crown lawyer Philip Perlmutter says he just learned of the converted video and wasn't planning on using it as evidence anyway.  Tuesday afternoon, the defence told the judge it will be seeking an application to prevent the Crown from using the pathologist's final report based on the second video. It's also looking at a Charter application alleging abuse of process by the Special Investigations Unit with respect to that video.