It’s been one week since Ejaz Choudry was shot and killed by Peel Regional Police.
On Saturday, family and supporters held a rally outside police headquarters demanding a public inquiry be launched into the 62-year-old’s death.
“We just want answers, that’s all,” explained Hassan Choudhary, the nephew of Ejaz.
More than 100 supporters turned out with placards.
“It’s hard to put it into words because honestly there’s no explanation for it. As I’ve said again and again, my uncle was harmless.”
Peel Regional Police were called to an apartment in the Mississauga neighbourhood of Malton last Saturday after reports Choudry, who lived with schizophrenia, wasn’t taking his medication.
When officers arrived, there were concerns the man may have had weapons and he had barricaded himself in his apartment. According to the province’s special investigations unit (SIU), police entered through a balcony door, firing plastic projectiles and a Taser before discharging a gun.
“(The family) did everything they’re supposed to do,” said Nadia Hasan, the CEO of the National Council of Canadian Muslims.
“They called the right people, they took the right steps — everything that they’ve been told they’re supposed to do to get the help that they need. They have done nothing wrong here. The only thing that happened that was wrong was at the hands of the police.”
The SIU says a knife was recovered at the scene. The arms-length agency is investigating circumstances surrounding the police shooting.
“We know our uniform and civilian members strive daily and work tirelessly to serve and keep the public safe,” police Chief Nishan Duraiappah said in a statement. “We are also aware that there are issues regarding the mental health system and the appropriate response to individuals in crisis. These have been identified as areas requiring immediate, progressive, and sustainable change.”
In a statement, Duraiappah offered his condolences to the family of Ejaz Choudry, saying that he’s committed to holding Town Halls to engage with the community.
“I am committed to bringing about systemic change inclusive of a human-rights-centric framework as we move forward. In collaboration with other leaders we will advocate for alternatives to current mental health service delivery models.”
The Choudry family wants to see more than condolences — they’re calling for the firing of the officer who shot and killed Ejaz as well as a public inquiry into the shooting.
“As you can see, the public itself is upset,” Choudhary added. “If the public rules that what happened was wrong — you have to answer for it.”