Const. Dave Weir told his fellow officer’s manslaughter trial that Abdirahman Abdi was sweating profusely and seemed to have “superhuman strength” the day he lost vital signs after a violent arrest.
The thought that Abdi may be suffering from excited delirium didn’t occur to Weir until afterward, he told the court over four days of testimony.
“It is the most difficult call I ever took,” Weir said of the altercation, which ended with Abdi losing vital signs outside of his apartment building at 55 Hilda St. in Hintonburg.
Weir’s fellow officer on that day’s call, Const. Daniel Montsion, is charged with manslaughter, aggravated assault and assault with a weapon in Abdi’s death.
Weir was called by the Crown to testify in their against Montsion, but Weir told the court he believed Montsion saved his life, and that Weir felt he was being used against Montsion.
Weir, who has been on leave from the police service for two and a half years, told the court the way the arrest played out was devastating for everybody involved.
“Nobody ever wants what happened that day to happen,” he said, adding that the incident has taken up three years of his life and three years of Montsion’s life.
Montsion’s lawyers are building a defence that Abdi was suffering from excited delirium when he was arrested on July 24, 2016.
The controversial condition refers to a group of symptoms associated with extreme mental and physiological excitement, but is not recognized as a syndrome in the medical community, according to the International Journal of Law and Psychiatry.
The court has already heard that people with excited delirium have a less likely chance of surviving encounters with the police.
Montsion’s defence lawyer Michael Edelson read symptoms of the condition aloud to the court, and Weir agreed he suffered from each of them: apparent superhuman strength, ignoring commands, profuse sweating, erratic and combative behaviour.
Weir was the first officer to respond to 911 calls involving Abdi and allegations of sexual assault inside and outside of the Bridgehead coffee shop on July 24, 2016.
Weir’s description of the arrest contradicts one of the defence’s theories about how Abdi died. Weir told the court he remembers pushing Abdi to the ground rather slowly during the arrest.
He was shown two versions of the surveillance video of the altercation, which have not yet been entered as evidence. He said the version where Abdi falls to the ground slowly and smoothly mimics what he sees “over and over in my mind.”
But after watching the video, he also acknowledged some of the details he remembered were wrong.
He remembered, for example, that Abdi was wearing a blue blazer during the arrest. He also doesn’t remember kicking or hitting Abdi with his baton in front of the doors of 55 Hilda St., but the video clearly shows he did.
Edelson said it was understandable that Weir might misremember some of the details of the arrest, given the stress he was under that day.
“This was the most difficult day of your policing life,” Edelson said to Weir. “It’s not uncommon that you might misremember certain things.”
“Absolutely,” Weir responded, and agreed that his memory of Abdi’s fall to the ground might have been something he misremembered.