New video footage appears to show the bloodied and limp body of Abdirahman Abdi on the ground after a confrontation with Ottawa police, as screams and cries are heard in the background.
Abdi, who died after sustaining injuries during the Sunday morning incident, appears to be unconscious or semi-conscious on the ground as one police officer holds him by the arm and head.
His hands are seen handcuffed behind his back. His eyes are closed and his mouth is slightly open. His pants are pulled down below his buttocks and his light blue shirt is bloodstained. Blood can also be seen smeared on the ground near his face.
But the video does not show what led to the Somali-Canadian man being fatally injured.
Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit, the independent agency that investigates police incidents resulting in death or serious injury, is looking into the actions of two male officers. Ottawa Police confirmed that the two officers were still on the job and there has been “no change to their status.”
But witnesses claimed police used excessive force against Abdi.
“Even after the guy had the handcuffs on they still kept beating him up. The guy was only screaming for help. They beat him up senseless until the guy was unable to speak or to do anything,” a witness, who declined to be named, told Global News Monday.
The latest footage was posted on YouTube Tuesday, as mourners laid flowers outside 55 Hilda St — the apartment building he lived in and the scene of the alleged beating.
The video was uploaded with this caption: “My beloved brother slaughtered by the Ottawa Police! O Allah you see the unjust world that we are living in.” It’s one of three video uploaded by the same user, with the username “Islam Muslim.”
Nimao Ali, who spoke to Global News Monday on behalf of the family, claimed Abdi was dead for “45 minutes” before he arrived at the Ottawa Hospital trauma centre on Sunday. Doctors declared Abdi dead Monday afternoon.
Ali described Abdi as “the kind of man who would hold the elevator door open for you.”
“We are very sad to see him go and about how his life ended,” she said.
Police were called to a nearby coffee shop at approximately 9:30 a.m. Sunday to respond to a report of a man allegedly groping several women.
According to the Ottawa Police Association, the union that represents Ottawa Police officers, officers pepper sprayed Abdi after he allegedly assaulted the officers and resisted arrest.
The officers then pursued Abdi on foot to his apartment building where he was critically injured.
Police Association President Matt Skoff dismissed claims race was a factor in how the officers conducted themselves in their attempts to place Abdi under arrest.
But at least one witness expressed his anger at what he saw.
But Skof said it would be “inappropriate” to imply race was a factor.
“In a situation like this, race is simply a fact to the case. I mean, this is no different than gender or height,” he said. “Our relationships with the community are very well established and we do not have the same history around racial tensions that the U.S. experiences.”
The National Council of Canadian Muslims is calling for a thorough and transparent investigation.
But Abdourahman Kahin, the leader of a group called Muslim Presence, is reserving his judgment.
We condemn the brutality of the police -100 per cent condemn but don’t put the colour of the victim (first),” he said Tuesday.
“Before he was black, he was a human being. He was a human being who was treated inhumanly,” said Kahin, who used to live in the same building as the Abdi family and knows one of his brothers.
In a tweet, the group Black Lives Matter Toronto also expressed its condolences to Abdi’s family and the Somali community “who are yet again grieving because of police violence.”
There’s also the question of Abdi’s mental health. Kahin and other neighbours described Abdi as having some form of mental illness or disability.
“Difficult as it is for a doctor to diagnose, it’s difficult for an officer especially at the scene to diagnose as well,” Skof said. “You’re still presented with a very challenging situation, where you have… aggressive behaviour.”
Abdi worked at a local car wash, the Minute Car Wash, but the business was temporarily shut down.
“We told him his job would be reopened in September, we were just trying to get organized here,” a woman who worked at the carwash told Global News. She requested not to be identified.
She said Abdi got married last September or October in Somalia.
“He wanted to bring his wife back, but he needed the security of a job,” the woman said. “We were just trying to open this place… we told him to be patient.”
She described him as a “good man” but that “there was something drastically different” when he came back to Canada.
“It’s very sad he died the way he did,” she said. “I don’t think anybody deserved that.”
With reporting from Shirlee Engel, Bryan Mullan, Will Campbell and The Canadian Press