‘Ottawa’ Family of Abdirahman Abdi Retains high-profile Lawyer
Lawrence Greenspon, a high-profile Ottawa criminal defence and civil litigation lawyer, was retained by the family of Abdirahman Abdi last Wednesday — two days after Abdi’s death following an arrest involving two Ottawa police officers.
Greenspon said he has met with the Abdi family to discuss possible legal action related to the death, which is currently under investigation by Ontario’s police watchdog, the Special Investigations Unit.
In addition to meeting with the Abdi family, Greenspon said he has also met with the SIU and pathologists involved in the ongoing investigation. Greenspon said his current role as the family’s counsel is to help organize meetings with family members and to liaise with those working to investigate Abdi’s death.
Greenspon and the family are awaiting the conclusion of the SIU investigation and the final autopsy report before they begin official legal action — a process that could take three to six months, Greenspon said.
The exact legal action the Abdi family could take isn’t totally clear. Greenspon said a lot will depend on the SIU’s recommendations once its investigation concludes.
If no criminal charges are laid, the family will likely go ahead with a coroner’s inquest and possibly push forward with civil action against the two Ottawa police officers currently under investigation by the SIU, Const. Dave Weir and Const. Daniel Montsion, as well as the Ottawa Police Services Board, the civilian organization that oversees the Ottawa police, Greenspon said.
“There’s a lot that (the family) will face in the coming months and years,” he said.
Greenspon has represented bereaved families in Ottawa before. He represented three families at a coroner’s inquest after their loved ones, all OC Transpo drivers, were gunned down in a bus garage on St. Laurent Boulevard in 1999 by a fellow OC Transpo employee.
Finding the truth is the motivation that moves a bereaved family — they want to understand what happened to help them grieve, Greenspon said.
But uncovering the truth through independent legal action is expensive. Legal fees that could be pumped into a case such as Abdi’s could be very high depending on what action the family decides to take. And for a low-income family such as the Abdis, paying what could be hefty legal bills won’t be an easy feat.
It’s a costly endeavour,” said Greenspon. “They’ve been hit with a number of expenses.”
Greenspon said he’s talked to the family about setting up a memorial fund for Abdi through a bank to help them cover the costs.
The local community has already rallied around the family in their time of grief both financially and emotionally.
A Go Fund Me page set up after Abdi’s death, initially to cover funeral expenses, has been expanded to fundraise for the family’s legal costs — the page has raised more than $19,000 so far.