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Arrest of man charged with Burnaby girl's murder a chaotic scene, trial hears

A police dog service vehicle collided with a civilian vehicle at the scene of Ibrahim Ali’s arrest in September 2018, according to testimony from the Burnaby RCMP officer who took Ali into custody.
police vehicle
Ibrahim Ali was arrested during a orchestrated traffic stop on Imperial Street in Burnaby in September 2018, according to testimony at his murder trial Thursday.

A Burnaby police officer described a chaotic scene during the arrest of the man accused of murdering a 13-year-old girl found dead in a Burnaby park six years ago.

Burnaby RCMP Const. Jason Cutler took the stand at the trial of Ibrahim Ali in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver Thursday afternoon.

Ali has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the death of the girl, whose body was found in Central Park on July 19, 2017.

The victim cannot be named because of a publication ban.

On Sept. 7, 2018, Cutler and his partner, Const. Bryce Sinclair, were tasked with arresting Ali during a coordinated traffic stop, according to Cutler’s testimony.

At about 11:30 a.m., Cutler said he and his partner were told to pull over a blue-grey Dodge Caravan with Ali in the passenger seat.

The officers were heading west on Imperial Street when they spotted the vehicle heading east.

At about 11:50 a.m., with lights and sirens going, they angled in front to van, forcing it to stop, according to Cutler.

Just as he was getting out of his police vehicle, however, Cutler said he heard “a loud bang … glass breaking, metal crunching” and jumped back into the cruiser “in a panic.”

It turned out a police dog service vehicle, on scene in case Ali tried to flee, had collided with a civilian vehicle.

“I just let that unfold. It took a second or two,” Cutler said. “Everything was moving fast. I was not expecting that.”

After the crash, Cutler said he hurried over to the passenger side of the Dodge Caravan to arrest Ali.

He’d been shown a photo of a clean-shaven Ali, he said, and wasn’t sure the man in the front passenger seat was him since he had what looked like two days of stubble, according to Cutler.

But a surveillance officer who had been tailing the Dodge Caravan confirmed it was the man they were looking for, he said.

Cutler said Ali had been cooperative as he led him to the back of the van and cuffed him.

“Once I was done placing the handcuffs, I took a second to just gather my thoughts and calm my breathing after the car accident,” Cutler said.

He said he told Ali several times he was under arrest for murder and told him his charter rights in English, even though Ali told him words to the effect of “no English.”

“I continued with the rights in English. Sometimes people tell me ‘No English,’ in the past they’ve told me ‘No English,’ and they understand it; they just don’t understand it well; it’s not their preferred language, so I still felt a duty to say it to him in English, knowing we still had translators with police on scene.”

Ali was taken to the cells at the Burnaby RCMP detachment after his arrest, and he has been in pre-trial custody ever since.

His arrest and the charges against him were announced to the public at a news conference three days later, on Sept. 10, 2018.

Police at the time would not say how investigators identified him as a suspect.

At his trial Thursday, Crown prosecutor Daniel Porte took Cutler through multiple surveillance videos at the Burnaby RCMP detachment during the time Ali was there.

Cutler’s testimony continues Friday.

Follow Cornelia Naylor on Twitter @CorNaylor
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