Hundreds of family members and friends of Ejaz Choudry along with community residents gathered for a funeral service in Mississauga on Wednesday after Choudry was fatally shot by Peel Regional Police.
“My uncles, aunts, cousins, brothers, sisters, kids have all been mourning for four days,” Hassan Choudhary, Choudry’s nephew, told those in attendance Wednesday evening, speaking on behalf of the family.
“My uncle would sit outside his building … and he would just sit, sit on the corner, sit on the steps, sit on the rocks, play with little kids.
“He was a harmless 62-year-old man who was a father of four.”
Officers were called to Choudry’s home near Goreway and Morning Star drives in Mississauga on Saturday after his family said he had a schizophrenic episode and had threatened to hurt himself. A police spokesperson said Choudry reportedly was not taking his medication.
Police also said officers believed the man had access to weapons and entered the home after he stopped communicating, leading to an “interaction” where police fired a stun gun, plastic bullets and a gun.
Family members said they asked police to allow them to try to calm their uncle down but were told by officers to be patient.
The family also said that officers were shouting at Choudry in English, which he didn’t understand.
Ontario’s police watchdog, the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), invoked its mandate and is looking into the conduct of the responding officers. By law, police can’t comment on the specifics of an incident after the SIU invokes its mandate. However, family members have called for an independent public inquiry to investigate Choudry’s death.
“Health should not be a death sentence,” Ibrahim Hindy, an Imam and president of the Muslim Council of Peel, said Wednesday evening.
Choudhary also reiterated pleas he and others made earlier in the week for action.
“How many more killings are going to happen before we hold the police accountable? How many? How many families are they going to leave without fathers?”
After the funeral, dozens of attendees marched along Goreway Drive and chanted, “No justice, no peace.”
Meanwhile, Choudry’s death comes amid other recent instances of people in crisis dying after interactions with police.
In May, Regis Korchinski-Paquet, a Black Toronto resident, fell 24 storeys from her apartment and died after Toronto police responded to a mental health-related call.
Her death prompted thousands of people to protest against racism and use of force by police in Toronto and across Canada.
In April, D’Andre Campbell was fatally shot by Peel Regional Police after his family said he called 911 to ask for help during a mental health crisis.
The SIU is currently investigating the circumstances leading up to Korchinski-Paquet’s and Campbell’s deaths.
— With files from The Canadian Press and Erica Vella
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