'Justice for Ejaz': Hundreds hold protest outside Peel police headquarters
Published Saturday, June 27, 2020 5:55PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, June 27, 2020 8:00PM EDT
Hundreds of people gathered outside Peel Regional Police headquarters, demanding justice for a 62-year-old Ejaz Choudry who was shot and killed by police inside his Malton apartment a week ago.
Peel police said the protest began around 3:30 p.m. Many were carrying signs and chanted “justice for Ejaz,” “no justice, no peace,” and “defund the police.”
Choudry's nephew, Hassan Choudhary, said he wants an explanation of why police killed his uncle.
"We just want answers for what happened and the reasoning behind it, because we know it was wrong," Choudhary said.
"We didn't think that these people would come here and murder my uncle."
It was precisely a week ago when Ejaz Choudry, a father four, was fatally shot by Peel police inside his apartment in the area of Goreway and Morning Star drives.
His death is now under the subject of a probe by the Special Investigations Unit, the province’s civilian police watchdog.
According to Choudry’s nephew, paramedics were initially called to the home by a relative because Choudry was having a mental health episode.
The nephew said the paramedics then called police after they saw Choudry had a knife in his hand.
When officers arrived at the scene and established communication with Choudry, the SIU said he barricaded himself inside the apartment.
Relatives of Choudry had said they pleaded to the police to let them talk to him to de-escalate the situation. They relayed to police that Choudry was frightened of police officers’ uniforms and weapons.
Also, the officers involved shouted commands in English, which Choudry’s relatives said was a language he did not understand.
However, relatives said police denied their requests.
After the communication stopped, the SIU said police decided to enter the apartment unit.
Some officers went to the front door and tried to break it down, while other officers who were armed with handguns, stun guns, and a projectile launcher capable of hurling 37mm plastic canisters went to Choudry’s balcony.
A cellphone video shows officers on the balcony entering a screen door.
The SIU said officers fired several canisters and a stun gun, but those failed to subdue Choudry.
An officer then fired at the 62-year-old man multiple times, the agency said. Choudry was pronounced dead the scene.
Six investigators and three forensic investigators have been assigned to the case. One subject officer and nine witness officers from Peel police have been designated.
Since Choudry’s death, several protests have been held demanding for a public inquiry. The family had said they do not trust the probe being done by the SIU.
Mustafa Farooq, the CEO of the National Council of Canadian Muslims, said they are protesting to demand accountability.
"What you're seeing here today is not just the Muslim community," Farooq said. "You're seeing folks from different racialized backgrounds, average citizens, allies."
On Saturday, Peel police Chief Nishan Duraiappah said in a statement that they have been in “constant dialogue” with representatives from the family.
“You have my commitment, as the Chief, and that of this entire organization, to continue to be accountable to the people we serve,” Duraiappah said.
He said once the SIU’s investigation is concluded, they will advise the family and community about their next steps.
However, Choudhary said he needs action and not words from the chief. He wants the officer who killed his uncle held accountable.
"Condolences don't mean anything. You can say condolences again and again and again. Put something into action," Choudhary said.
"We don't want (the officer) to go and do something else to someone elsewhere there's another hashtag, where there's a justice for someone else because this could be your uncle. This could be your brother. This could be your sister. This could be anyone. This could be any Canadian."
‘Justice for D’Andre’
Protesters were also calling for justice for 26-year-old D’Andre Campbell, who was fatally shot by Peel police inside his Brampton last April.
They chanted “Justice for D’Andre” outside the police headquarters.
Campbell’s family called police to their home on April 6 because he was experiencing a mental health crisis.
Dajour told CP24 that his brother had a knife in his hand but was not advancing toward anyone when an officer drew his gun and fired.
Campbell had already been hit twice with a stun gun and brought down to the floor before he was shot, Campbell’s sister, Michelle, told CP24.
His death is also being investigated by the SIU.
Speaking on behalf of the Campbell family, Jermaine Chambers said the family is still searching for answers almost three months after Campbell's death.
"The family wants to know is this police officer stood on frontline duty? Has he been suspended? Is he still receiving full pay?" Chambers said. "What is happening with that police officer?"
He noted that the SIU has not given the family any updates on where the agency is in its investigation.
The family has been patient and respectful of the process, but they deserve answers now, Chambers said.
On June 11, the agency said the subject officer who was invited for an interview, has not yet submitted to the interview nor provided his notes.
"We want this officer to be held to account, and we want this officer brought before the justice system," he said.
"They came out here today to again remind the SIU, to remind Chief Nishan that they need answers," Chambers said.
"Show them the level of respect that they have shown."
Chambers said police are not well-suited to respond to mental health calls, saying that mental illness is a health issue, not criminal.
He noted the resources to deal with people in crisis should be transferred from police departments to paramedics or other mental health agencies.
"If you go from the basic premise that mental illness is a health issue, then we will not have the police involve in it."
- With files from CP24 and CTV Toronto staff