Amnesty International statement on verdict of Abdirahman Abdi’s death

OTTAWA – Amnesty International stands firmly in solidarity with the family and loved ones of Abdirahman Abdi, as well as Black communities in Ottawa and across Canada, after a court found Ottawa police Const. Daniel Montsion not guilty of manslaughter and assault charges connected to his death.

Abdi was a 37-year-old Somali-Canadian man who died on July 24, 2016 following a violent arrest and altercation with Ottawa police, captured on a witness video. Abdi’s family indicated that he suffered from mental health issues. He had no criminal history.

“Today’s verdict does not serve justice to Abdirahman – nor to the Black, Indigenous and racialized people who have died at the hands of police before him” said Ketty Nivyabandi, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada. “Instead, today’s verdict is yet another painful reminder of the systemic racism that is pervasive in our police institutions and carceral systems. This must end.”

Canada’s mental health care institutions continues to consistently fail Black people. Amnesty International is echoing the Justice for Abdirahman Abdi Coalition’s calls for greater transparency and accountability in our law enforcements, as well as increased mental health supports.

“Our hearts go out to Abdirahman Abdi’s family and friends who are dealing with this devastating news today,” said Nivyabandi.

Abdirahman’s death is part of a long history of police violence against Black and Indigenous people in Canada. Police must be held accountable for systemic racism and how it influences policing decisions and practices. Black communities in Ottawa are also questioning the death of Anthony Aust, a 23-year-old Black man who died earlier this month while police were present. On Oct. 7, Aust fell from a window of his family’s 12th floor apartment building during a raid in which SWAT police executed a no-knock warrant, battering down the door and using flashbang grenades. Regis Korchinski-Paquet also fell to her death from a high-rise building in Toronto after police entered her apartment on May 27. Further, 26-year-old D’Andre Campbell was shot in his home by Peel police officers in April this year.

Amnesty International is continuing to call on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to follow-up on his 2019 campaign promise to strengthen and boost funding for Building a Foundation for Change: Canada’s Anti-Racism Strategy. Amnesty International also calls on Trudeau and Public Safety Minister Bill Blair to apply an immediate ban on carding, street checks and racial profiling by law enforcement. These cases, including today’s verdict­­, demonstrate Canada’s urgent need for decisive, government-wide reforms to end systemic racism. Federal and provincial governments must act now to reform the institutions which uphold this systemic racism. Clear roadmaps for reform exist, it is past time to implement them.

Media contact: Lucy Scholey, Media Relations, Amnesty International Canada (English branch), 613-853-2142,