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CanadaDifficult to prove punches killed Abdirahman Abdi, pathologist testifies

12:16  07 june  2019
12:16  07 june  2019 Source:   cbc.ca

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The pathologist who examined Abdirahman Abdi 's body said he told lawyers for both the Crown and the Special Investigations Unit they'd have difficulty proving blows from a police officer's gloved fist killed the Ottawa man. Dr. Christopher Milroy, Ottawa's chief pathologist , acknowledged on

Customers who intervened to stop Abdirahman Abdi from assaulting women outside a Hintonburg coffee shop punched him several times in the head and chest before his violent arrest by Ottawa police officers, a witness told Difficult to prove punches killed Abdirahman Abdi , pathologist testifies .

Difficult to prove punches killed Abdirahman Abdi, pathologist testifies © Provided by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

The pathologist who examined Abdirahman Abdi's body said he told lawyers for both the Crown and the Special Investigations Unit they'd have difficulty proving blows from a police officer's gloved fist killed the Ottawa man.

Dr. Christopher Milroy, Ottawa's chief pathologist, acknowledged on Thursday under cross-examination by lawyers for Const. Daniel Montsion that he brought up causation issues in determining Abdi's death.

Montsion has pleaded not guilty to charges of manslaughter, aggravated assault and assault with a weapon in Abdi's July 2016 death.

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Difficult to prove punches killed Abdirahman Abdi , pathologist testifies . Weir testified that he felt Abdi possessed "super-human strength," crediting Montsion with saving his life. However, the Crown called that testimony "embellished and exaggerated," pointing instead to what witnesses

Difficult to prove punches killed Abdirahman Abdi , pathologist testifies . Montsion punched Abdi , 37, in the head numerous times during a violent arrest outside Abdi 's apartment complex while wearing assault gloves with reinforced knuckles.

The court has already heard that Montsion punched Abdi twice in the head when he first arrived at 55 Hilda St. on July 24, 2016, to arrest him.

After Const. Dave Weir pushed Abdi to the ground, Montsion punched him in the head two more times as they tried to get him into handcuffs.

Paramedics discovered that Abdi had no vital signs when they arrived on scene roughly seven minutes later. Montsion was wearing Oakley assault gloves with reinforced knuckles during the arrest.

Milroy told court he spoke to lawyers with the province's Special Investigations Unit (SIU) and the Crown during a meeting in November 2016, four months before Montsion was charged.

Milroy concluded that Abdi died of homicide by heart attack, and that the gloves did extensive damage to his face.

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The death of Abdirahman Abdi , a Somali-Canadian, occurred on July 24, 2016, in the neighbourhood of Hintonburg in the Kitchissippi Ward of Ottawa, Ontario.

Abdirahman Abdi died of what Ottawa's head pathologist referred to as "homicide by heart attack" Pathologist Christopher Milroy, who examined Abdi 's body after his death, testified in an Ottawa The head punches continued after Abdi was pushed to the ground as the officers worked to get him

But over three days of testimony in court, he explained that's not the only possible explanation for Abdi's injuries or death.

Casting doubt

Milroy explained that Abdi had an underlying heart condition and that two of the main arteries in his heart were 80 per cent blocked.

A number of factors could have contributed to Abdi's death, he said, including the physical exertion from the struggle and his facial injuries.

"He could have dropped dead at any time," Milroy told court.

Montsion's defence team entered into evidence a recording of a telephone interview Milroy had with the SIU's lawyers in January 2017.

In the audio played for the court, Milroy said he couldn't determine exactly when Abdi's cardiac arrest "was going to become inevitable."

He said that if Abdi had reached a point where he was certainly going to have a cardiac arrest, additional blows wouldn't make a difference.

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Abdirahman Abdi died because he had a “significant” and unknown underlying heart condition that put him at risk of cardiac arrest “at any time,” according to Dr. Christopher Milroy, the forensic pathologist who conducted Abdi ’s post-mortem examination.

Daniel Montsion dealt to Abdirahman Abdi ’s head or face as he tried to arrest him in Hintonburg on Abdi died in hospital the day after that altercation. The forensic pathologist who conducted his port-mortem ‘The most difficult call I ever took’. The dispatch record also shows the disturbance at the

"Is it possible that you haven't quite reached [that point] and the blows just add a bit more? Yes it is. That's why I've put them in the cause of death," Milroy told the SIU's counsel in the recording.

"But equally, I recognize that there is a causation issue — in the sense of what parts of those were necessary [to Abdi's death] as opposed to were just potential contributors."

Off his medications

Milroy also described to the court the various anti-psychotic drugs Abdi had been prescribed. He testified Abdi had been taken off his medication in the weeks before the arrest as his family wanted to see if he could live without it.

Medical records entered into evidence said that after that decision, Abdi "became increasingly disorganized and psychotic" and occasionally was "aggressive toward family members."

The court has already heard that on July 24, 2016, police were called to the Bridgehead coffee shop on Wellington Street West after a customer had to pull Abdi off of a woman sitting in a booth.

Customers corralled Abdi outside, where he was seen groping another woman parking her bike. When Const. Weir arrived, he attempted to arrest Abdi, who ran about 250 meters to his Hilda Street apartment building.

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All those events could have caused what's usually referred to as an adrenaline rush, Milroy testified Thursday.

He couldn't say which of those events would have been enough to stop Abdi's heart, since the effects of adrenaline and other biochemicals can last up to 10 minutes after the event.

He also said patients with a psychotic illness are more likely to die suddenly, but it's not clear if those deaths are related to the illness or the medications prescribed to treat it.

Assault with a weapon

The facial bone fractures Abdi suffered were beyond what is typically associated with mere punches, Milroy said.

He blamed the damage on the gloves Montsion was wearing, which would have caused more "localized force."

While Milroy couldn't rule out the possibility Abdi's wounds occurred when Weir pushed him to the ground, he said he'd expect to see scrapes on Abdi's cheek if that were the case.

A small cut near the bridge of Abdi's nose, Milroy said, could have been caused by a punch with the gloves or the push.

The trial will resume June 17.

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