Reuters International

OTTAWA (Reuters) - A Somali immigrant to Canada died after being hospitalized in critical condition following his arrest by Canadian police, Ontario's police watchdog said on its Twitter account on Monday.

Media reports cited witnesses saying the man was beaten by a number of police officers as he tried to run into an apartment building during the incident on Sunday.

Ontario's Special Investigations Unit (SIU) launched an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the arrest of the man in an Ottawa neighbourhood.

"SIU can confirm the 37-yr-old man in Hilda St incident in Ottawa has now died," the agency posted on Twitter.

The man was identified by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) news channel as Abdirahman Abdi, a Somali immigrant.

The unit said on Sunday that Ottawa police officers had been called in the morning with reports of a man causing a disturbance. Shortly after officers responded there was a confrontation during which the man "suffered medical distress". He was taken to hospital in critical condition.

Video posted on the National Post newspaper's website appears to show a man in a bloodied shirt lying face down on the ground with his hands cuffed behind his back and his pants pulled down before paramedics arrived and began administering CPR. Neighbours can be heard yelling at the police in the background.

The man's brother told CBC that Abdi had been "sick" and rarely spoke to other people, while other media reports said he may have been on the autism spectrum. Abdi's brother told CBC he had lived in Canada for eight years.

While incidents of this type are rare in Canada, allegations of police brutality and racial bias have sparked protests in the United States following a series of incidents caught on video.

Earlier this month, there were police shootings of two black men in Louisiana and Minnesota, and two black gunmen upset by those incidents later shot dead five policemen in Dallas and three in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

(Reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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