THE National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), the Urban Alliance on Race Relations (UARR), and the Muslim Council of Peel (MCP) are demanding that the Peel Regional Police officer responsible for firing the bullets that killed Ejaz Choudary, a 62-year-old man with schizophrenia, on Saturday night in Mississauga be taken off the force.
The province’s Special Investigations Unit is investigating the circumstances surrounding Choudary’s death.
The SIU said that preliminary information suggests the following:
- At approximately 5 p.m. on June 20, Peel Regional Police officers attended an apartment unit at 3425 Morningstar Drive to check on the well-being of a man.
- The man barricaded himself inside the unit, and for a period, officers were able to communicate with the man.
- Shortly after communication stopped, officers breached the door and entered the unit. An interaction occurred which included officers deploying a conducted energy weapon at the man, as well as firing plastic projectiles from an Anti Riot Weapon ENfield. When these had no effect, an officer discharged a firearm and the man was struck.
- The man was pronounced deceased at the scene.
Six investigators and three forensic investigators have been assigned to the case.
The SIU is urging anyone who may have information about this investigation to contact the lead investigator at 1-800-787-8529. The Unit is also urging anyone who may have any video evidence related to this incident to upload that video through the SIU website.
The SIU is an arm’s length agency that investigates reports involving police where there has been death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault. Under the Police Services Act, the Director of the SIU must:
- consider whether an officer has committed a criminal offence in connection with the incident under investigation
- depending on the evidence, lay a criminal charge against the officer if appropriate or close the file without any charges being laid
- report the results of any investigations to the Attorney General.
MEANWHILE, Peel Regional Police Chief Nishan Duraiappah said in a statement:
“I offer my heartfelt condolences to the family of Ejaz Ahmed Choudry, on his death due to a critical incident on June 20, 2020.
“As the investigation into this tragic incident moves forward, you have my assurance on the full cooperation of Peel Regional Police with the processes and procedures of the Special Investigations Unit.
“We believe in collaboration with stakeholders, partners and communities to work for public policies that will restore the mental health system so that those with mental health concerns, receive the care that they deservedly need.
“Loss of life such as Mr. Choudry’s and those before him, lead to deep impact that is felt and shared by the responding officers, and all employees of Peel Police who work diligently to serve and keep the public safe in our communities.
“I have been in consultation with our Muslim Advisory Committee, and will be consulting other stakeholders in the community and experts in the field of mental health, to do all that is necessary to support those experiencing mental health distress.
“I ask for calm and patience as we sketch our path forward and as the investigations unfold what transpired.”
THE Peel Police Services Board later issued the following statement:
“The Peel Police Services Board is saddened by the events of recent weeks, in which two, separate mental health-related calls into Peel Regional Police resulted in the deaths of two Peel residents. We want to offer our sincerest condolences to the families and friends of D’Andre Campbell and Ejaz Choudry for their loss.
“While united in grief, we also know that the community is angry and frustrated. Everyone rightfully wants answers – and so do we.
“As deaths that involve police interactions, the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), has invoked its mandate to investigate the circumstances surrounding both of these tragic events. The SIU is the civilian oversight agency responsible for investigating circumstances involving police that have resulted in a death, serious injury, or allegations of sexual assault of a civilian in Ontario. As such, the Board is unable to comment on the ongoing SIU investigations and information pertaining to the circumstances surrounding the deaths remains limited.
“That said, the Board and Peel Police Chief, Nishan Duraiappah, have requested that the SIU work as expeditiously as possible to conclude these investigations so that the public can be informed of their full findings. Where possible, the Board is also requesting that the SIU provide updates to the public on the status of the investigations.
“Over the next few months, the grave impacts of these tragic events will undoubtedly inform the Board’s work on key issues, such as community engagement, strategic planning and the 2021 Budget. In collaboration with Chief Duraiappah and the Region of Peel, the Board is also engaged in a new Community Safety and Well-Being Plan that will ensure mental health calls, public health and safety, and community relations are considered in a more holistic way when it comes to community policing.
“As this work unfolds, the Board remains committed to putting the safety and security of every member of our Peel community first. These deaths are a tragic reminder that there is much work to be done.”