Ottawa Cops Are Selling Bracelets In Support Of An Officer Charged With Manslaughter

Daniel Montsion is charged in the death of Abdirahman Abdi.

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Some Ottawa cops are selling bracelets that support an officer charged in the death of an unarmed black man.

YouTube / Via youtube.com

According to the Ottawa Citizen, police officers and supporters have bought hundreds of black-and-blue gel bracelets that express solidarity with Const. Daniel Montsion. The bracelets are reportedly selling for $2 apiece.

Montsion faces charges of manslaughter, aggravated assault, and assault with a weapon over the July 2016 death of Abdirahman Abdi, a 37-year-old Somali-Canadian man.

Abdi died after he was violently subdued by police officers outside his apartment building. Eye witnesses described officers pepper-spraying Abdi, striking him with their batons, and punching him repeatedly in the head. Abdi was declared dead at the hospital the following day, although family members say he died before even arriving at the hospital.

The bracelets read "United we stand" on the outside and include Montsion's badge number, 1998.

#Ottawa police don wristbands in support of officer charged with manslaughter, via @onthebeat1:… https://t.co/sQQdeL7f5m

In a message to all officers, Ottawa's police chief Charles Bordeleau said Tuesday that while he understands the sentiment behind the bracelets, they are not to be worn on duty.

"We must take into account the community perceptions of actions like these wristbands," Bordeleau said in his message, a copy of which was obtained by BuzzFeed Canada. "There has already been a great deal of negative commentary and we should all be concerned about the long term impact on public trust this could create."

The head of the police union said he sees no problem with the show of support from fellow officers, adding that there was no pressure on officers to wear them.

"These are members expressing their sympathy and empathy for another colleague," Matt Skof, president of the Ottawa Police Association, told CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning.

Members of the Ottawa Somali community who have been pushing for justice in Abdi's case say they're outraged by the bracelets.

Family photo / Handout

“This is not a traffic violation we are dealing with, this is manslaughter, a cold-blooded killing of a civilian by an officer on the sunshine list,” Farhia Ahmed, co-chair of the Justice For Abdirahman Coalition, said in a statement.

The group has criticized the handling of Montsion's case, accusing the authorities of "preferential treatment" for the accused police officer.

Ottawa police have come under scrutiny for a number of issues, including the use of reinforced "assault gloves" like the kind worn by Montsion during Abdi's arrest.

Police launched an internal review of equipment following the charges against Montsion, although the findings have not been made public. According to CBC News, the gloves were central to the charge of "assault with a weapon" in Monstion's case.

In a separate case, a judge ruled last week that a police officer violated the rights of a teenager whom he punched in the face while the 19-year-old was handcuffed in the backseat of a police cruiser during a 2015 arrest.

Another officer was charged with discreditable conduct last year for online comments about the death of a prominent Inuit artist, whom he suggested "got drunk and fell in the river."

The number of public complaints filed about Ottawa police officers spiked last year, according to VICE News, increasing by 133 percent in the third quarter of 2016.

Ishmael Daro is a social news editor for BuzzFeed and is based in Toronto.

Contact Ishmael N. Daro at ishmael.daro@buzzfeed.com.

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