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‘This system is not meant to be there for us,’ says family of man killed by police

LIAM CASEY, THE CANADIAN PRESS AND NEWS STAFF | posted Tuesday, Jun 23rd, 2020

Hundreds of people marched through the streets of Mississauga, Ont., on Monday to protest the police shooting of a 62-year-old man suffering from mental illness.

Joined by the man’s family, the crowd chanted “no justice, no peace, abolish the police” as they walked along a major thoroughfare with little police presence.

Ejaz Choudry was in the middle of a mental health crisis when the family said they called the non-emergency line for help around 5 p.m. on Saturday. Three hours later, Peel Regional Police officers stormed Choudry’s home, fired multiple shots, and killed him.

Choudry’s family has demanded that the officer who shot him be fired. They have also called for a public inquiry into the man’s death, as well as changes in the response to people in crisis.

“We want to create a system that is meant to be there for us,” said Choudry’s nephew, Hassan Choudhary.

“This system is not meant to be there for us. You’re in a mental health crisis and you’re faced by people with guns, people with body armour, people with authority over you, people demanding you, telling you what to do, instead of listening and trying to understand what’s wrong.”

At one point, the emotional crowd surrounded two police officers and screamed at them for change. Other protesters got between the officers and the crowd, which eventually marched on.

The Special Investigations Unit, the province’s police watchdog, is probing the death.

Choudry’s family had previously expressed its lack of faith in the SIU to conduct a thorough investigation, a position they reiterated on Monday.

“I need justice,” said Rafaqat Ali Choudry, the man’s younger brother. “Police is to protect us, not kill us. How I trust again?”

The family’s calls for a public inquiry were supported by the Opposition New Democrats, but Premier Doug Ford has expressed his confidence in the SIU.

“My heart and prayers go out to the family that lost a loved one, no matter what happened,” Ford said Monday at a news conference.

“This is a terrible situation, unfortunate, but let’s see what the report says because I don’t believe in pointing fingers at any group, any organization, until we get the details because the details will tell the story.”

The man’s family has said that responding officers were shouting at Choudry in English, a language he didn’t understand.

The family said Choudry had periodically held a kitchen knife on Saturday. They said they pleaded with police to allow them to talk to Choudry. Police had taken everyone outside the home except for Choudry, the family said.

“My uncle was a harmless man, he had no power to hurt anyone, he could barely breathe at times,” Choudhary said.

The crowd was condemned other fatal encounters between police and people in crisis, including the recent death of a 29-year-old woman in Toronto who fell from her balcony while officers were inside her home. The family of Regis Korchinski-Paquet has questioned the role of police in her death, which is also being investigated by the SIU.

They were also chanting the name of D’Andre Campbell, a 26-year-old man suffering from mental illness who was shot inside his home by Peel police responding to a domestic incident call.

Police Chief Nishan Duraiappah, Police Services Board issue statements Friday evening

Police Chief Nishan Duraiappah offered his condolences to the family and said he has been communicating with the region’s Muslim Advisory Committee.

“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,” he said in a statement Monday evening. “I ask for calm and patience as we sketch our path forward and as the investigations unfold what transpired.”

The Peel Police Services Board, the civilian body governing police in the municipality, said in a statement they could not comment on the specifics of the investigation as the incident is being investigated by the SIU.  However, they said they are asking the SIU to keep the public informed on the status of the investigation.

“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,” the said. “Where possible, the board is also requesting that the SIU provide updates to the public on the status of the investigations.”

They added that “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.”

A long fight to make the Air India bombing a ‘Canadian’ tragedy

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Jun 23rd, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, today is the 35th anniversary of the Air India bombing, which killed 329 people, 280 of them Canadian citizens. In the immediate tragedy, the terrorist attack was seen largely as a foreign incident. As recently as 2007, not even half of Canadians considered it a “Canadian” tragedy. Why did the largest mass murder of Canadians in the country’s history remain for so long a story about India and Ireland? And how have things changed in the past decade to reframe it?

GUEST: Chandrima Chakraborty, Professor, Department of English and Cultural Studies, McMaster University

You can subscribe to The Big Story podcast on Apple PodcastsGoogle and Spotify

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

Woman facing multiple charges after allegedly driving impaired on Highway 400: OPP

BT Toronto | posted Tuesday, Jun 23rd, 2020

A woman is facing multiple offences, including allegedly driving impaired, following multiple calls to 911 about an erratic driver on Highway 400 Sunday evening, Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) said Monday.

OPP Const. Kerry Schmidt said they received multiple calls to 911 at around 8 p.m. that a vehicle had been seen driving erratically on the southbound Highway 400 near Highway 88.

When OPP officers caught up to the vehicle, the driver did not initially stop for the police, Schmidt said.

“The vehicle was pulled over after some distance,” Schmidt said. “The driver initially did not stop, but the vehicle was eventually was stopped and condition of impairment was observed by the officer.”

Schmidt said the officer conducted a roadside impairment test, which the driver failed.

When the driver was tested again at the police detachment, the driver was found to have double the legal alcohol limit, Schmidt said.

Darya Selinevich, 27, of Richmond Hill, has been charged with multiple driving offences including impaired driving, impaired driving with excess alcohol, five counts of operation while prohibited, two counts of driving under suspension.  She was also charged with possession of drugs, in this case, it was cocaine, Schmidt said.

Selinevich has been remanded into custody.  No other information has been released by the police.

Two-thirds favour keeping 2 metres physical distance: Leger poll

JOAN BRYDEN THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Jun 23rd, 2020

Two-thirds of Canadians don’t want to relax physical distancing rules imposed to curb the spread of COVID-19, a new poll suggests.

And even if they were relaxed, a strong majority wouldn’t be comfortable taking part in activities that would bring them closer to other people, like going to a movie theatre.

Sixty-six per cent of respondents to the poll, conducted by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies, said two metres should remain the safe distance kept between people, as recommended by Canada’s public health authorities.

Just 12 per cent favoured reducing the distance to 1.5 metres, as is required in many European countries, and only 10 per cent favoured a reduction to one metre, the minimum recommended by the World Health Organization.

If the physical distancing rule were reduced to one metre, just 40 per cent said they’d be comfortable dining in a restaurant, 28 per cent going to a movie theatre, 24 per cent to a gym and 21 per cent to a bar or night club.

“We’ve been schooled on two metres for over three months now,” said Leger executive vice-president Andrew Enns.

“It’s difficult for Canadians to now suddenly start to be convinced that it’s OK to make that a closer distance.”

The online poll of 1,521 adult Canadians was conducted June 19 to 21. It cannot be assigned a margin of error because internet-based polls are not considered random samples.

Enns said the reluctance to get closer with their fellow Canadians reflects a “very persistent level of anxiety” about the deadly new coronavirus that causes COVID-19, despite a steady decline in the number of new cases in Canada.

Just 43 per cent of respondents said they believe the first wave of the pandemic is over and 74 per cent think there’ll be a second wave, according to the poll. And 51 per cent said they are very or somewhat afraid of contracting COVID-19.

Forty-two per cent said they believe the worst of the crisis is over but an equal number said we’re in the worst of it now or the worst is yet to come (10 per cent and 32 per cent, respectively).

Almost half (46 per cent) said they find it very or somewhat stressful to leave the house and go out in public.

Sixty-two per cent said it will take time before life returns to normal, while 28 per cent said it will never return to normal.

All those measures of continued anxiety about COVID-19 are likely contributing to people saying “I’m not going closer than two metres because this thing’s not over,” Enns said.

Ongoing protest over fatal police-involved shooting blocks major Mississauga intersection

BT Toronto | posted Monday, Jun 22nd, 2020

More protests are planned Monday after crowds of protesters marched through the streets of Mississauga on Sunday night over the deadly police shooting of a 62-year-old man.

They occupied the intersection of Morningstar and Gorewary drives, near where Ejaz Choudry lived, setting up tents and chairs.

The Special Investigations Unit has been called in — but relatives say they don’t trust the province’s police watchdog to conduct a fair investigation.

They’re calling for a public inquiry.

One of the victim’s nephews, Hassan Choudhary, tells CityNews his uncle suffered from schizophrenia and was very ill physically – he could not move without assistance.

Choudry’s family said he was armed with a small knife when multiple officers broke into his home.

They said they asked police to let them try to calm their uncle down, but were told to be patient.

The SIU said police officers deployed a conducted energy weapon at the man and fired plastic projectiles from an Anti-Riot Weapon ENfield. They say when those methods had no effect, an officer discharged a firearm and Choudhry was struck.

He was pronounced dead at the scene just after 8:30 p.m.

Monday’s protest is being organized by Choudry’s family.

Police have closed Gorway to vehicle traffic in the area for the safety of those protesting.

OPP looking for ‘a person of interest’ after Ontario Police Memorial defaced

BT Toronto | posted Monday, Jun 22nd, 2020

Ontario Provincial Police said they are seeking the public’s help in identifying “a person of interest” after the Ontario Police Memorial wall was vandalized Saturday evening.

The memorial, which lists the names of 267 fallen police officers, was defaced with what appears to be red paint at around 7:42 p.m., police said.

The memorial is across from the Ontario legislature building on Queen’s Park Circle East and Grosvenor Street.

Investigators released CCTV frame grabs on Twitter Sunday night. The image appears to show a person wearing white shoes, shorts, a sleeveless top, dark sunglasses, and a green mask. The person also appears to be holding a bag.

OPP are asking anyone with information to contact them directly. Tips can also be left anonymously with Crime Stoppers.

 

Man, 19, dies after being pulled from Lake Ontario near Woodbine Beach

BT Toronto | posted Monday, Jun 22nd, 2020

A man pulled from Lake Ontario by rescue crews near Woodbine Beach has died, police said.

Toronto police tweeted at around 7:48 p.m. Sunday that the Marine Unit had been called to the Hubbard Boulevard and Maclean Avenue area for a report of a man screaming for help in the water.

Police said the marine unit deployed boats and jetskis to search for the man.

Shortly later, a 19-year-old man was pulled from the water by rescue crews with no vital signs, police said.

Paramedics were seen performing CPR on the man. The man was then transported to the hospital by EMS.

Police said he was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

Police said they continue to investigate the incident.  Anyone with information is asked by the police to contact them directly. Anonymous tips can also be left with Crime Stoppers.

Man, 62, who died in police-involved shooting identified, Muslim Council of Peel demands public inquiry

BT Toronto | posted Monday, Jun 22nd, 2020

The family of the 62-year-old man who died in a police-involved shooting in Mississauga on Saturday night has confirmed his identity.

Ejaz Ahmed Choudhry was pronounced dead on scene after an interaction with police. He has four children aged 6, 12, 13 and 18.

The province’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU) has taken over the investigation and a post mortem will be conducted on Monday.

One of the victim’s nephews, Hassan Choudhary, tells CityNews his uncle suffered from schizophrenia and was very ill physically – he could not move without assistance.

He says initially, one of Choudhry’s children called the police non-emergency line because he has suffered from such episodes in the past. Paramedics were requested because his uncle was not taking his medication.

“Paramedics came in and they saw that he had a small pocket knife in his reach,” says Hassan. “As soon as they saw that, they felt that he was aggressive. They called the police.”

Hassan says police did not contact the family, but rather other members of the family let them know that officers had arrived at his uncle’s apartment.

Another nephew, Khizar Shahzad, who was at the scene at the time of the incident, said in a press conference Sunday that he and his brother were pleading with officers not to hurt their uncle.

“He’s so frail, I was afraid that even a tackle was going to kill him,” he said, adding that officers did not try to deescalate the situation.

“There was no conversation. They were yelling commands in English – he doesn’t speak English,” he said, adding that an interpreter on scene “did not say a word.”

“While they were banging on the door, the ETF officers came from the back, scaled the windows from the back and shot him,” he said.

The SIU said Peel police officers initially attended Choudhry’s apartment to check on his well being.

When they arrived, Choudhry had barricaded himself inside the residence.

Const. Sarah Pattenden also confirmed the man was suffering from a medical condition and was not taking his medication.

Const. Akhil Mooken said officers maintained constant communication with Choudhry and were encouraging him to surrender to police, but just before 8 p.m., communication was cut off.

Police then decided to enter the residence due to Choudhry’s extensive medical history.

There was then an interaction between the man and officers once they were inside the residence and shots were fired by police.

The SIU said the interaction included officers deploying a conducted energy weapon at the man and firing plastic projectiles from an Anti-Riot Weapon ENfield. They say when those methods had no effect, an officer discharged a firearm and Choudhry was struck.

He was pronounced dead at the scene just after 8:30 p.m.

In an update on Sunday, the SIU said they have collected video footage from the area and interviewed several witnesses.

They said a knife was recovered from the scene along with a police-issued firearm and other evidence connected with the use of force options that the officers employed.

The Muslim Council of Peel is demanding a public inquiry into the shooting.

In a statement, the council said a disproportionate number of racialized people including Black, Indigenous and Muslim individuals are victims of police shootings in Canada and Peel Region.

They are calling for an “immediate review of the use of force particularly during mental health calls” and “demand an independent inquiry outside the role of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU).” They also want race-based demographic data on police shootings made public.

“Given the video evidence and the testimony of family members, Peel Police’s conduct in this matter was clearly excessive and requires nothing short of an independent inquiry unconnected to the SIU,” said imam Ibrahim Hindy, Acting President of Muslim Council of Peel.

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