Ottawa police officers have purchased wristbands expressing solidarity with an officer accused of manslaughter in the death of Abdirahman Abdi, which bear the words ‘united we stand,’ ‘divided we fall’ and the number 1998, which is Const. Daniel Montsion’s badge number.
Some members of the Ottawa Police Service have launched an initiative aimed at supporting a fellow officer who is facing manslaughter charges in relation to the violent death of Abdirahman Abdi.
Abdi died after an altercation with police outside his Hintonburg apartment building in July. An investigation by the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), led to charges against Const. Daniel Montsion, one of the officers on the scene that day.
On Wednesday, the first day of preliminary court procedures in preparation for Montsion’s trial, a number of Ottawa police officers produced blue and black rubber wristbands stating “United We Stand #1998.” The number printed on the band is Montsion’s badge number. The bracelets are being sold for $2.
The Ottawa Police Association — the union that represents rank-and-file officers — said the bracelets were ordered by individual officers and not the union. However, the union said it stands in support of its officers.
The union also said the bracelets are to be worn by officers who are not on duty.
Youtube video screen grabs of one the officers accused of assault Abdirahman Abdi, who died in custody of Ottawa Police.
Several police officers told the Citizen that the bracelets are a way to show support for a fellow officer who has been charged in the course of his policing duties.
The officers who spoke said they are not interested in taking a position on the facts of the case itself, which are currently before the courts.
“We understand how serious this really is. But it’s not about interfering with the judicial process,” said Insp. Pat Flanagan. “It’s about providing support to one of our members and not taking away from the fact that there should also be support mechanisms in place for the Abdi family.”
Flanagan said that, at a time when police forces are mandated to prepare plans to prevent officer mental health issues, the act of wearing the bracelets is intended as a show of support.
“Officers have taken their own lives for not having that shoulder to lean on. Nobody wants that to happen to anyone,” he said.
The charges against Montsion allege criminal intent for his actions, which is an issue that some officers find themselves struggling to grasp.
“We go to work everyday with the mindset of helping people in need with positive outcomes. Anyone of us could find ourselves in a similar situation,” he said.
– With files from Shaamini Yogaretnam