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Somali-Canadian community to meet with WRPS, push for answers about arrest caught on tape

Video of arrest posted online appeared to show officer 'punching' suspect, chief said last month

Video of arrest posted online appeared to show officer ‘punching’ suspect, chief said last month

The Somali Canadian Association of Waterloo Region plans to meet Thursday evening with the Waterloo Regional Police Service to push for answers about the arrest of a Somali-Canadian man last month.

During the arrest on July 5, which witnesses took video of, the man was removed from his car after police thought they heard a gunshot, later believed to be a firework. The arrest involved the use of “physical control,” and one officer appeared to be punching the man, WRPS Chief Bryan Larkin has said.

The man was later charged with dangerous driving.

Faduma Musse, president of the Somali Canadian Association of Waterloo Region, said the community has many lingering questions about the “excessive” force used by police during the arrest. Musse said she also plans to ask about what de-escalation procedures police are supposed to follow when interacting with those who have mental health issues.

 

The over-policing of particular neighbourhoods is another area of concern that will be up for discussion, she said.

Musse said she feels the meeting is “long overdue,” but is hopeful it will be the first step toward rebuilding trust between the Somali-Canadian community and the police.

“It’s up to them to really tell us how they’re going to gain that trust back and what they plan to do in order to restore that faith in the system that is supposed to defend us,” Musse told CBC News.


Skip to 33:27 Mark to begin the video

Police say meeting about arrest, community concerns

In the wake of the arrest, Waterloo regional police ordered an investigation led by an external police service, as well as a use of force expert.

The police service said the meeting was set up to address the arrest in July and “acknowledge any concerns this community may have,” Const. Ashley Dietrich said in an email.

“Meeting with the Somali Canadian Association of Waterloo Region will allow us to understand some of the challenges and barriers the Somalian community are experiencing, which will allow us to find ways to better support them in the future.”

Dietrich noted the arrest in July remains an ongoing investigation by Peel Regional Police.

“We are subject to their timelines and at this time have no indication when it will be complete,” she wrote.

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