Nathaniel Brettell

Brettell, NathanielName: Nathaniel Brettell.
Died: January 21, 2021 (Last seen; body not found).
Age at death: 56.
Cause of death: Unknown homicide.
Location: Etobicoke, Ontario, Canada.

Details:
Nathaniel’s friends Amanda and Regan remember him as “a loyal, caring person”. He was polite to others, but he was an introvert with only a few friends. He liked to keep a steady routine, and made a conference call to his friend Amanda every Thursday. When he missed a call, his friends called police to check on him.

During the wellness check, police were attacked by a knife-wielding man, who was then arrested and jailed while the police officers were treated for their injuries. In his room, police found Brettell’s blood, but no body.

Despite the lack of a body, police believe Nathaniel was murdered and are looking for his body.

References:
Sister of missing Etobicoke man Nat Brettell refuses to give up hope he’ll be found alive
Missing man now subject of Toronto homicide investigation remembered by friend as ‘loyal and caring’

Jameson Shapiro

Photo of a small boy with fair skin, wearing a sailor-themed beanie and a camo T-shirt, smiling for the camera.Name: Jameson Shapiro.
Died: November 26, 2020.
Age at death: 18 months.
Cause of death: Homicide (Shot).
Location: Kawartha Lakes, Ontario, Canada.

Details:
Jameson and his brother, both autistic, were in their mother’s custody when their father abducted Jameson. Jameson’s father hit a police roadblock and got into a shootout with police. When it was over, Jameson’s father was dying, and Jameson was found dead, also shot by police.

References:
Baby killed in Kawartha Lakes incident was shot by OPP officer, SIU says
Opinion | Why is almost everything about his shooting death a secret?
Jameson Fund, organized by Bryan Ross
‘I can’t go any quicker,’ Special Investigations Unit director says

Dominik Prusinski

Name: Dominik Prusinski.
Died: January 9, 2017.
Age at death: 21.
Cause of death: Murder (Stabbed).
Location: Oshawa, Ontario, Canada.

Details:
Dominik made videos and posted them online. He liked playing video games and was ranked 108th in the world on Call of Duty. He "never hid who he was", and "could be too trusting", but he was a good friend with "a heart of gold". He was looking forward to marrying his girlfriend, Sarah Sommer.

Dominik walked into the police station with stab wounds. He fought to survive for nine hours, but ultimately died. His death is still an unsolved murder. Anyone with information can call police at 905-579,1520, extension 5402 or Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

References:
“He’s my baby”: Family reeling after Oshawa man stabbed to death
Obituary of Dominik Prusinski
PRUSINSKI, Dominik Michael Prusinski – Obituary
Man who died after Oshawa stabbing identified as Dominik Prusinski, 21

Abdirahman Abdi

Photo of Abdirahman Abdi, a man with very dark skin and short curly black hair. He is wearing a white T-shirt and has earbuds in his ears.Name: Abdirahman Abdi.
Died: July 24, 2016.
Age at death: 37.
Cause of death: Death in police custody; during beating/restraint.
Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

Details:
Abdirahman was a Somali-Canadian Muslim. Along with his family, he had traveled to Canada as a refugee from Ethiopia in 2009.

Abdi kept to himself. He was shy, especially around women or people he didn’t know well. He had worked at a car wash, but lost the job when the business shut down.

On the day he died, Abdi went to a coffee shop he often visited. He approached a couple sitting at a table and began to talk to them, then reached out toward the woman to shake her hand. When she drew back, Abdi left, and she called the police, apparently unnerved by his odd behavior and thinking that Abdi had intended to assault her.

Police arrived and Abdi ran from them, trying to get home. They chased and caught him, using batons and pepper spray and beating him with fists and billy clubs. Abdi began begging, but he spoke in Somali and the police could not understand him and most likely did not care to listen even if they could have understood. A bystander tried to tell the police that Abdi was mentally disabled, not a criminal, but because he was also Somali, he translated the Somali “mentally ill” incorrectly and told the police officer that Abdi was “a crazy man”. What he had meant to say was that Abdi was only confused, not a criminal; the officer heard that Abdi was dangerous. Despite the bystanders’ attempts to help and Abdi’s pleading, the officers continued to hit him.

Abdi passed out from the beating after about ten minutes, and instead of administering first aid, the officers handcuffed him. Another ten minutes passed before they tried CPR, but Abdi was already dead. An ambulance was called to take his body to the hospital, leaving blood stains on the pavement.

Abdi’s probable autism was never publicly acknowledged because people from Somalia, where he comes from, often don’t openly talk about mental health, and there is no word for autism in Somali. Socially awkward and disabled, he always greeted people with the exact same “Hi, how are you today?” He was polite and quiet. He was variously described as “mentally ill”, “mentally disabled”, and “autistic”.

Abdi’s Somali Muslim community has held vigils and protests and placed memorials to him. They report they have become more afraid of police since Abdi died.

“He was very nice, very peaceful,” a local shopkeeper said. “I think he will go to heaven.”

The man who beat Abdi to death was charged with manslaughter, but acquitted. A civil lawsuit is planned.

References:
‘When will our lives matter?’: Pain and heartbreak follow Ottawa officer’s full acquittal in Abdirahman Abdi manslaughter trial
Man near death after police beating: Witnesses
Mentally disabled Somali-Canadian dies during violent arrest
‘All of us are hurting’: Abdirahman Abdi mourned at funeral
‘We are scared of the police’: Community reels after Abdirahman Abdi’s death
2 officers under investigation in death of Ottawa man identified
Witnesses recount Abdirahman Abdi’s ‘gruesome’ encounter with Ottawa police before his death
Death of black man in Canada after arrest sparks race debate
Let death of Abdirahman Abdi be last of its kind
More focus needed on mental health after Abdirahman Abdi’s death, advocates say
SIU investigates after man critically injured in police incident
Vigil held in Montreal for Abdirahman Abdi, who died after struggle with Ottawa police

Canada police officer charged in death of mentally ill black man

Lydia Whitford

Photo of Lydia Whitford. She is a young woman with fair skin and dark brown hair; she is wearing a turquoise jacket and pink baseball cap. Her mouth is open and her face relaxed in a neutral expression.Name: Lydia Whitford.
Died: July 14, 2016.
Age at death: 18.
Cause of death: Homicide, unknown type.
Location: Springfield, Manitoba, Canada.

Details:
As children, Lydia and her older sister Jessica lived together; Jessica was only a year older than Lydia, and the girls were close. Though Lydia was non-verbal, the girls developed their own way of communicating and did everything together. At age ten, both girls were taken into foster care; Jessica returned home, but Lydia stayed in foster care, and as the sisters grew up, they stayed in touch. Jessica remembers her younger sister as innocent and gentle.

When Lydia died, her family was told that she had died of natural causes–but a few months later, police investigators gave the family the news that her death had in fact been a homicide. Jessica, who had seen the bruises on her sister’s body, began searching for answers.

More than a year later later, Lydia’s foster mother was charged with manslaughter, though the charges were stayed for “lack of medical evidence”. Exactly how Lydia died has not been released.

Her sister told reporters that “I want people to remember her as the kind and loving person she was.”

References:
Vigil marks birthday of woman with autism who died in CFS care
Family wants answers in homicide of teen living in licensed foster home
Family of woman with autism found dead in foster home seeks answers
Family plans birthday vigil for Manitoba teen with autism killed in foster care
Family seeks answers after teen’s death in foster care deemed a homicide
Homicide victim’s family asks how woman with autism died in CFS care
Killing of teen with autism in foster care to be investigated by Manitoba’s children’s advocate
Foster mother charged in death of autistic woman, 18
Woman charged with manslaughter in death of disabled woman
Winnipeg woman charged in death of teen with autism
Foster mom charged in 2016 homicide of teen with autism, family says
Winnipeg woman arrested following homicide in July 2016: RCMP
Family of teen with autism looking for closure after Crown stays manslaughter charge against foster mother