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Family of 62-year-old man fatally shot by police in Mississauga, Ont. calls for public inquiry
TORONTO -- A man shot and killed by police in Malton on Saturday night has been identified by family as 62-year-old Ejaz Choudry.
Choudry, a father of four, was fatally shot inside an apartment in the area of Goreway and Morning Star drives at around 8 p.m. on Saturday.
Officers first responded to the apartment at around 5 p.m. for a call about a person in crisis.
In a news release issued Sunday, the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), which is now probing the circumstances surrounding the shooting, said the 62-year-old barricaded himself inside an apartment unit and officers were called to conduct a wellness check.
Peel police Const. Sarah Patten previously said that officers believed the man, who had a medical condition and was not taking his medication, had access to weapons inside the residence.
Officers, the SIU said, were able to communicate with him through the door of the apartment unit for a period of time, but when he stopped responding, police breached the door and entered the unit.
The SIU said an interaction occurred between officers and the 62-year-old, which resulted in police deploying a conducted energy weapon and firing plastic projectiles at him.
According to the SIU, the projectiles and conducted energy weapon had no effect on the man and an officer then discharged his firearm multiple times.
Choudry, who sustained gunshot wounds, was pronounced dead at the scene.
The victim's nephew said a video of the incident shows officers climbing up a ladder to the balcony of his uncle's unit and entering the apartment shortly before gunshots ring out.
"They kicked the door open and they said, 'Drop it.' As soon as they said drop it, they started shooting. What conversation is that," he asked.
"That is how you deal with mentally ill patients... We called these guys to help us. This is what they do?"
Police would not say what weapons the man may have had inside the apartment.
"We hope that with the completion of the SIU investigation and also our investigation... a lot of questions can be answered at that time,” Patten said on Saturday night.
The SIU said one subject officer and nine witness officers were involved in the incident on Saturday night.
Several witnesses have now been interviewed, the SIU confirmed Sunday, and investigators are in possession of video footage related to the incident.
Investigators have collected a police-issued firearm, a knife, a conducted energy weapon, and an Anti Riot Weapon Enfield (ARWEN) from the scene.
A post-mortem examination is expected to be conducted on the victim in Toronto tomorrow.
Six SIU investigators and three forensic investigators have been assigned to the case.
The police watchdog is asking anyone with information or video footage of the fatal shooting to contact investigators.
The SIU is an arm's length agency called to investigate any incident involving police and a member of the public that results in death, serious injury, or an allegation of sexual assault.
Family demands a public inquiry
The victim's nephews, along with the acting president of the Muslim Council of Peel, held a news conference on Sunday afternoon, demanding a public inquiry into the shooting.
Khizar Shahzad, who arrived at the scene around 7 p.m. on Saturday, said his uncle's eldest daughter called for a non-emergency ambulance because he was having an episode.
Upon arrival, Shahzad said paramedics saw Choudry with a knife and called police.
He noted that police removed everyone inside the apartment except Choudry.
"When that happened, his daughter started yelling his name, saying that, 'Come outside. They want to help you,'" Shahzad said.
Hearing his daughter's voice, Choudry opened the door, according to Shahzad. But as soon as Choudry saw the officers running to him, he closed the door.
Shahzad said he let the supervising officer know that Choudry was scared of their police uniform.
"He's scared of your uniform. He's scared of your big guns," he recalled telling police. "If you go upstairs with that, he's going to be scared. He's having an episode."
Shahzad said he pleaded with police to let a family member go inside the residence to deescalate the situation, but police denied the request.
Still, he said he went to the apartment, where he saw four officers trying to break the door open.
"There are reports in the news saying they try to deescalate the situation. I was there. There was no conversation," Shahzad said.
He noted that the officers were yelling commands in English, but Choudry did not speak the language.
There was an interpreter at the scene, he noted, but the interpreter only translated several words.
While officers were trying to access the front door, Shahzad said ETF officers scaled the balcony and shot Choudry.
Family and community members held a protest near the apartment building on Sunday afternoon, holding signs calling for justice. They then marched through the streets, blocking several roads for hours.
On Sunday night, Peel police said protesters have set up tents and chairs at the intersection near where Choudry lives.
"What happened yesterday was a crazy event. Something that we never thought we'd ever have to see," Hassan Choudhary, another of Choudry's nephews, said.
"It was a tough time because we felt that police, paramedics are there to help you, protect you and serve you. But after yesterday's episode… it really shows you who's here to protect and serve you... There's no one."
Hassan remembers his uncle as a bright, caring man who always spent time with his family.
He said police did not allow one family member to talk and help his uncle.
"It's sad to see that someone that genuine and beautiful is taken from us," Hassan said.
He noted that his uncle, who could barely walk three or four steps due to breathing issues, was not trying to hurt anyone else.
"With the police force, they didn't care," Hassan said. "They did what they thought was right, which was completely immoral and completely wrong."
"They keep saying he was a threat to himself, but what did you do? You thought he was a threat to himself, so you're going to kill him?"
Another nephew, Hashim Choudhary, said his uncle had schizophrenia and the only way to de-escalate the situation was for a family member to intervene.
"With this disorder, you cannot interrogate and intimidate him with someone he's already scared of," he said.
Even though his uncle was holding a knife, Hashim said his uncle was frail and the police's decision to shoot him did not make sense.
"We want a public inquiry with the politicians involved to help bring this to justice," Hashim said.
Ibrahim Hindy, the acting president of the Muslim Council of Peel, said Choudry should be alive today celebrating Father's Day with his children.
"He's been robbed from being with his children. And the only reason he isn't here today is because of the horrific attack that we witnessed yesterday," Hindy said.
He said they are demanding a public inquiry because they have no faith in the SIU investigation.
"He should not be gunned down by the police who are meant to protect and to serve him."