Friends and family of Olando Brown gathered in downtown Barrie in mourning and in protest June 25.
Brown died on June 23 after being arrested by Barrie police.
Police say that after Brown was arrested in downtown Barrie, the 32-year-old went into medical distress during the booking process. Officers called EMS, and Brown was transported to the Royal Victoria Health Centre, but ultimately died later that afternoon.
After Brown’s passing, the Barrie police notified the Ontario Special Investigations Unit, which invoked its mandate to investigate deaths, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault involving police officers.
Barrie police say as a result, they will not be able to provide any further information, as the case is now being investigated by the SIU.
The arrest was caught on video by witnesses and shows officers repeatedly tasing Brown.
Monday evening, friends and family gathered at the site of the arrest in mourning and in protest of what they say was a blatant misuse of power, and police brutality.
Daniel Abiodun is a licensed paralegal who works with young people who have had trouble with the law in the Simcoe County area. He says he was introduced to Brown and took him under his wing.
Abiodun says he and Brown would attend church together, with Abiodun’s children, and over the last several months became very close. “He was never without a smile,” he said.
Abiodun says Brown confided in him, and a few days ago told him there was a warrant out for his arrest relating to a domestic dispute. “He confided in me because he knows I am a licensed paralegal and he was going to turn himself in. But he wanted to be sure that somebody knows, is aware, and once he is custody, can help.”
He says the news of Brown’s passing was a complete shock, and has yet to tell his children. “I haven’t told my daughter yet,” he said. “It will break her heart.”
Abiodun, like many of Brown’s family and friends in attendance at the vigil, is now seeking justice.
“That means whoever is responsible for this is thoroughly and properly investigated, and I want to ensure that peace is brought to the community,” he said.
Abiodun says he has contacted the Special Investigations Unit, and reached out to several media outlets to ensure there is accountability and justice for his friend. “We have to correct this so the community can remain as one,” he said.
On Monday night, Brown’s friends, who turned out in the dozens, demonstrated just how strong that community is.
“There are some people here who I haven’t seen in years, so that just shows how powerful this is. Don’t ever let somebody’s dignity die. When they cry for help you have to embrace them, because they are worth so much more than this,” Abiodun said.
Abiodun says for now he will respectfully await the decision of the SIU, and allow thorough investigation and due process.
While the grieving process is difficult, Abiodun says he feels happy to have known Brown. “I am happy to have known him, and I’m happy that everybody is here,” Abiodun said. “Look at how a man can make a village. That is what this is about, and that is why I’m coming forward and looking for justice for Olando.”
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