A group of Somali mothers in Ottawa is calling for the city’s police force to “remove” two officers pending the completion of the provincial watchdog’s review of the July 24 death of Abdirahman Abdi.
“We demand that Chief (Charles) Bordeleau immediately remove the two police officers. . . . We do not feel safe with them still patrolling the streets.”
Despite the group’s characterization of Abdi’s death, what happened in Hintonburg last week is still under investigation by the Special Investigations Unit, a provincial police watchdog. The two officers are still working although not on patrol duty, the Ottawa police said earlier this week.
What is known is that Abdi, 37, died following a confrontation with police in Hintonburg. Witnesses have said police were called to the Hintonburg Bridgehead coffee shop around 9 a.m. after Abdi allegedly grabbed a female customer’s breast. Police chased Abdi to his Hilda Street apartment, where witnesses said he was pepper-sprayed, beaten with batons and left handcuffed on the ground until paramedics arrived to find him without vital signs.
“We are very closely watching the SIU and their investigation of the case,” the Somali mothers group said. “Nothing less than a thorough, fair and transparent investigation will satisfy us, and this includes making the report public.”
The Abdi family has called for patience, but also for answers.
“Abdirahman’s loss has taken an unimaginable toll,” the family said in a statement read following the funeral Friday. “We all have many questions, but we are trying to be as patient as possible as the investigation is in progress. We need answers.”
The Canadian Council of Muslim Women, among others, echoed those sentiments.
“We’re not laying blame on it, but we are saying to take a very hard, critical look at what happened and to have it be very transparent and share with the public what the results of the findings will be,” council official Farhat Rehman said Friday.