'Now I'm trying to tell you guys the truth and you guys say I'm lying. I'm trying to tell you guys the truth.'—Gharib Abdullah
Drug dispute led to killing
Witness said Cansanay pointed shotgun, but didn't see who shot
His answers came slowly and reluctantly, but in the end, his testimony placed a shotgun in the hands of Jeffrey Cansanay.
But Gharib Abdullah stopped short of saying Cansanay fired the shots that killed 17-year-old bystander Phil Haiart.
Abdullah said he and another man, Corey Amyotte, fled on bicycles as soon as they saw Cansanay pointing a shotgun at them outside a McGee Street crack house.
“I seen the gun and I just left, I was afraid of getting shot,” Abdullah said. “I didn’t see who shot it. It could have been someone else.”
“You’re sounding like a defence lawyer,” cracked Crown attorney Gerry Bowering.
Haiart was two weeks shy of his 18th birthday when, on Oct. 10, 2005, he suffered a fatal gunshot wound to the abdomen.
Cansanay is on trial charged with second-degree murder.
Prosecutors allege Cansanay and a co-accused were associates of the African Mafia, a splinter gang of the Mad Cowz, with whom they were engaged in a bitter turf war. Abdullah and Amyotte were allegedly aligned with the Mad Cowz.
Abdullah testified he and Amyotte approached the crack house “to talk about the problem, why we were fighting each other and what not.”
Abdullah said he and Amyotte were in the parking lot of a nearby video store when Cansanay and a teen accused appeared at the front of the crack house. The teen accused pulled out a rifle and told Cansanay to shoot, Abdullah said.
“Shots were going everywhere,” he said. “I don’t know where they landed.”
The alleged targets escaped harm. Instead, Haiart was shot in the abdomen and another man, 25-year-old Abbas Jalloh, was shot in the arm.
Jurors heard Abdullah was convicted of contempt of court and sentenced to three years in prison in connection with his refusal to testify about the killing in 2007.
“In jail, they don’t like people who rat,” said Abdullah, who is no longer in custody. “I was scared for my safety, my family’s safety, everybody’s safety ... Put yourself in my position. If you were locked up, and you were a rat, what do you think they are going to do? Say ‘hi’ and that’s it?”
Defence lawyer Greg Brodsky accused Abdullah of lying to escape possible deportation.
“Yeah, I’m afraid to be deported,” he said. “(Police) just want me to tell the truth and I am telling the truth.”