Man found guilty of 2nd-degree murder in fatal 2016 nightclub shooting

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The early-morning shooting took place on Aug. 14, 2016 at the Sentral Nightclub on Dalhousie Street. Mustafa Ahmed has been found guilty of second-degree murder in the deadly shooting.  (Andrew Foote/CBC - image credit)
The early-morning shooting took place on Aug. 14, 2016 at the Sentral Nightclub on Dalhousie Street. Mustafa Ahmed has been found guilty of second-degree murder in the deadly shooting. (Andrew Foote/CBC - image credit)

An Ottawa man charged in a deadly 2016 shooting at a ByWard Market nightclub has been found guilty of second-degree murder.

Ontario Superior Court Justice Ronald Laliberté said he deemed Mustafa Ahmed was not credible or reliable when he testified in his defence. The judge read his decision at the Elgin Street courthouse.

Ahmed, 32, pleaded not guilty and testified that he had acted in self-defence on Aug. 14, after Omar Rashid-Ghader struck him with a bottle while he spoke to a potential investor in his illegal drug business at the bar area of Sentral Nightclub.

Rashid-Ghader was shot twice — once through the heart — and died.

The confrontation was caught on security cameras, which the judge said contradicted parts of Ahmed's testimony.

In his decision, Laliberté said Ahmed's interaction with Rashid-Ghader were not consistent with the "deep fear" he professed of the deceased, who he knew from his youth involvement in south Ottawa gang activity.

The judge pointed to video of them hugging and another which showed Ahmed brushing past Rashid-Ghader — mere minutes before their fatal confrontation — on his way to speaking to a potential investor in his illegal drug business.

Laliberté said Ahmed was evasive when confronted with video of that moment.

Ahmed, pictured in this photo provided by police, said he acted in self-defence.
Ahmed, pictured in this photo provided by police, said he acted in self-defence.(Ottawa Police)

Key omissions in story

The judge agreed with the defence that some of the names and circumstances Ahmed omitted from recounting his criminal involvement was reasonable, given it could endanger him while he's in jail.

However, Laliberté said Ahmed failed to provide enough details about key figures about the night of the shooting — including the central figure of "the investor" — and this hampered his credibility.

In Ahmed's version of events, he had attended the club to meet with the investor, but wanted to do so away from Rashid-Ghader, who may have tried to take a cut of the deal, and that's what kept him in the club until the time of the fight.

However, the video shown to court showed Ahmed and the investor shaking hands, hugging, dancing and otherwise together earlier in the night, the judge said. He said Ahmed's description of the role of the investor, and the time he arrived at the club, changed during the course of his testimony.

Laliberté said Ahmed's actions on that night also undermined the case he was acting reasonably in self-defence and that Ahmed "played a significant role in instigating and escalating the incident."

A screenshot of Omar Rashid-Ghader on YouTube. Rashid-Ghader, an aspiring rapper, died after the confrontation on Aug. 14, 2016.
A screenshot of Omar Rashid-Ghader on YouTube. Rashid-Ghader, an aspiring rapper, died after the confrontation on Aug. 14, 2016.(YouTube)

Retreat an option for self-defence, says judge

Ahmed walked around the club with his firearm visible through his shirt, walked very close to Rashid-Ghader despite having identified him as a potential threat, and continued to negotiate his deal with the investor despite Rashid-Ghader and his henchmen being nearby, the judge summarized in his decision.

"In such a setting, retreat and avoidance were means available to him," Laliberté said.

The judge said while he was considering how Ahmed's experience and prior knowledge of Rashid-Ghader may have informed his actions, the standard of "reasonableness" is also meant to maintain the standard of conduct acceptable to society.

"It is fair to say that the carrying of a concealed loaded firearm, with the intent of using [the firearm] if needed as protection, in a public setting such as a nightclub in the pursuit of illegal drug activities, is not reflective of essential community values and norms," Laliberté said.