Witness describes Abdi having a 'blank stare' in interaction shortly before police takedown of Abdi

Joanne Schnurr, CTV Ottawa

“Government, corruption, sexuality”. Those are the words a witness recalls hearing from 37-year-old Abdirahman Abdi shortly before Abdi’s fatal encounter with Ottawa police.

Constable Daniel Montsion's manslaughter trial into Abdi’s death continued Wednesday after the release yesterday of crucial surveillance video showing the police takedown.This is day 10 of the Montsion manslaughter trial.  For all but essentially one day, the same witness had been on the stand: SIU investigator David Robinson whose job it was to collect evidence at the scene including the CCTV footage from 55 Hilda Street, where Abdi had lived. The footage shows Abdirahim Abdi as he tries to run into his apartment building on Hilda Street and Const. Dave Weir tries to stop him, striking him several times with his baton and then his foot.  Const. Daniel Montsion then arrives and appears to punch Abdi before both officers wrestle him to the ground.  Const. Weir has not been charged in this case.

Justice Robert Kelly released two versions of the video but court only saw about 30 seconds of each of them. The surveillance footage is key for both the Crown and Defence. The Crown hopes the video will proves that Montsion used excessive force during the takedown of Abdi and that he is responsible for his death. The Defence is arguing that there are issues with disclosure of the video and with what they've referred to as a "doctored" version of it.

Montsion is charged with manslaughter, aggravated assault and assault with a weapon after the July 24, 2016 encounter with Abdi. 

On Wednesday, court heard testimony from an employee at the Hintonburg Community Centre who had an interaction with Abdi shortly before police became involved.  Caolan  Cullum said Abdi had followed him into the centre as he was unlocking it that Sunday morning  He testified that Abdi's "mouth was agape, his eyes were intense and he had a blank stare almost."   Cullum said his speech was incomprensible, except for a few words:  "Government, corruption, sexuality" and then: "Paris, Germany, and "standing with your brothers."

Montsion's defence lawyer Michael Edelson suggested there was possibly sinister meaning behind those words and asked Cullum if he recalls terrorist attacks around that time in both Paris and Germany and then asked: 

"Is it fair to say when he (Abdi) said "Paris" and "Germany" that at least one of those came to mind when he said "Standing with your brothers?"

Cullum replied yes but suggested Abdi had perhaps just been repeating things he had heard.  Cullum said Abdi hadn't scared him at any point, adding he didn't feel Abdi was violent.

This case is scheduled to last 12 weeks with the Crown to call 31 witnesses.  We are into witness number 2.  Defence lawyer Michael Edelson said late Wednesday that he is very frustrated with the pace of the trial.  Clearly the judge is as well and suggested a timeline to keep the trial moving forward.