Man accused of killing cabbie made racist remarks, court told
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A Winnipeg man accused of stabbing a city cab driver to death in an unprovoked attack made racially charged comments to police in which he admitted to the killing, a judge was told Thursday.
Okoth Obeing, 22, is on trial for second-degree murder in the killing of 44-year-old Balvir Toor in March 2020.
Obeing, who was arrested a day after the slaying, was being kept in a holding cell at the Winnipeg Police Service downtown central processing unit. After a few hours, he started to act erratically and aggressively, testified Const. Marnie Johannesson, who was a central processing officer at the time.
Obeing — whose actions were being monitored by a surveillance camera — threw his food on the floor, refused to comply with repeated demands to not cover his face with a blanket, tore his blanket into strips, and repeatedly banged on the steel door of his cell, Johannesson said.
“It was so loud you couldn’t have a conversation in there,” she said.
When repeated attempts to settle Obeing down failed, officers placed him in shackles and handcuffs Johannesson said. Obeing started banging his head on the floor and a decision was made to transport him to the Winnipeg Remand Centre.
“He seemed very angry and wound up,” Johannesson said.
Obeing remained calm during the drive to the remand centre, but once there “became a bit agitated” and told an officer “You’re next,” Johannesson said.
While being processed, Obeing told another officer: “You’re the same colour as the guy I killed,” Johannesson said.
“He was calm, he was not yelling it, he was just stating it matter of fact,” Johannesson said, adding she heard Obeing mutter racial slurs that were directed at the same man.
Earlier in the day, court heard testimony from Obeing’s then probation officer. The substance of her testimony cannot be disclosed until King’s Bench Justice Joan McKelvey determines whether it is admissible.
There appears to be no dispute Obeing killed Toor. The issue, prosecutor Chantal Boutin told court Wednesday, is Obeing’s state of mind at the time of the killing.
In a police interview following his arrest, Obeing told investigators he had negative feelings towards South Asian people because of his experiences growing up and he disliked cab drivers, specifically those who demanded payment up front.
A cab driver who provided Obeing a ride less than half an hour before Toor was killed testified Obeing became irate and abusive after he asked to be paid in advance. Parwez Paul said after a heated exchange, he gave Obeing his money back. Obeing got out of the cab before reaching his destination.
Court has heard Obeing has bipolar disorder and was not taking his medication, but prosecutors allege his mental illness did not prevent him from understanding the seriousness of his actions or knowing that they were wrong.
Someone once said a journalist is just a reporter in a good suit. Dean Pritchard doesn’t own a good suit. But he knows a good lawsuit.
Updated on Friday, November 25, 2022 4:16 PM CST: Changes last paragraph to note prosecutors allege Obeing's mental illness did not prevent him from understanding the seriousness of his actions