No charge for the death of Ejaz Choudry, 62, shot dead by police in crisis

No charge for the death of Ejaz Choudry, 62, shot dead by police in crisis

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Ontario police watchdog has ruled there will be no criminal charges against police over the death of a 62-year-old father of four who was shot and killed by a police officer last summer after his family called an elective line for help while he was in crisis.
In a decision released Tuesday, the Director of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), Joseph Martino, concluded that the Peel regional policeman who fired two bullets in Ejaz Choudry’s chest had acted reasonably when he fired from the balcony of Choudry’s locked apartment in Mississauga, Ont. on June 20. , 2020. A three-hour standoff led to the fatal outcome.

Choudry, according to the report, was armed with an eight-inch-long kitchen knife when police kicked his balcony door and shouted at him in English – a language his family said they didn’t understand well – to drop his gun. The officer in charge was concerned that Choudry, who suffered from schizophrenia and was not taking his medication, was at risk of self-harm, Martino said.

Two of the three officers on the balcony who later spoke to investigators claimed that Choudry had moved towards them, knife in hand, after the balcony violation – a claim for which Martino notes that they are the only source of direct evidence. After a stun gun and plastic bullets failed to subdue Choudry, according to the report, the third officer opened fire (the SIU does not name the officer).

The officer who shot Choudry refused to speak to the SIU or give him his notes, as permitted under the Ontario Police Services Act. All that is known from his point of view are the words that another officer would have heard said immediately after the shooting, the report says, “I had to do this.” I had no choice. “

“Police officers have a duty to protect life, which extends to the general public and not just to victims of crime,” Martino said in his decision. “The law clearly states that police officers are not required to measure the force they used accurately or with subtlety.

“As such, I believe [the officer’s] the use of his firearm was objectively reasonable, necessary and proportionate to the threat posed by Mr. Choudry, despite the tragic loss of life he caused. ”

The Ontario SIU investigates all cases involving police officers that result in serious injury or death, as well as allegations of sexual assault.

‘He thought the police would shoot him’

For a brief moment during the meeting of about three hours, there had been a glimmer of hope.

Choudry’s daughter and another family member spoke to him from the hallway outside the apartment, asking him to come out of his house and turn his knife over to the police.

“He said he would not come out because he thought the police would shoot him,” the report said.

Within hours, at 8:38 p.m., he was dead.

Ladders used by police can be seen leaning against Choudry’s balcony and his family’s apartment in Mississauga on June 20, 2020. (SIU)

Earlier today, Choudry, who had been hospitalized for psychiatric treatment, decided to leave the hospital against a doctor’s advice. At around 5 p.m., her daughter called an elective line to seek medical assistance from her father, who appeared confused and reportedly had a pocket knife.

Paramedics arrived at the apartment first, followed by the police, who attempted to speak to Choudry through the apartment door. Choudry, whose family says they are afraid of the police, told the officers to leave.

Instead, his daughter entered the unit standing behind two officers. Inside, they found Choudry in a room sitting on a prayer rug and asked to see his knife. His daughter translated their words into Punjabi and, according to the report, he revealed a large kitchen knife under the rug “pointing at the officers”.

Again, he asked them to leave.

Attempts to communicate with Choudry continued from the hallway outside the apartment, but Choudry refused to leave, saying he was afraid of the police.

Choudry “difficult” to understand: report

At around 6 p.m., tactical agents took control of the scene and asked the family to come down and not communicate with Choudry. Officers stayed at the door to try to ‘reassure’ Choudry that paramedics were there to help him – but the report suggests communication was ‘difficult’ and that he only occasionally answered in English.

A Punjabi speaking policeman finally arrived around 6:45 p.m. along with other tactical officers.

Choudry also did not greet the Punjabi speaking officer, but “confirmed he had no intention of harming himself,” before starting to pray loudly. He also reportedly warned the police not to go inside and to “watch what happens” if they do.

Choudry was said to have held that 8-inch kitchen knife when a Peel policeman opened fire on him from his apartment balcony last June. (SIU)

Meanwhile, the officer in charge began to form a “deliberate course of action”, which would see one tactical team enter the apartment through the balcony, while another entered five seconds later through the door. Entrance. It was 7:42 p.m. before a crisis negotiating team was called – and they were still an hour away.

Some time before 8 p.m., according to the report, Choudry stopped communicating and there was no sound coming from the apartment. After about 20 minutes without communication, the officer in charge decided to carry out the action plan.

The video posted to social media after Choudry’s death captured what happened next.

WATCH | Tactical officers break Ejaz Choudry’s balcony door in June 2020:

Video taken by a spectator shows tactical agents answering a call in a building on Morning Star Drive on Saturday. Later, a man was killed. (Ibrahim Hindy / Twitter) 0:16

The officers on the balcony kicked the door, repeatedly shouting, “Put down the knife.” A few seconds later, there is the sound of gunshots.

A post-mortem examination revealed that Choudry had died from gunshot wounds to the chest.

Not a departure from what a “reasonable person” would do: UES

After being shot, according to the report, Choudry fell backwards to the ground with the knife still in his hand. Officers again ordered him to drop the knife, according to the report, an officer firing rubber bullets at him when he did not appear to obey. Another then kicked him in the arm, “knocking the knife to the ground.”

Instead of helping him and preventing him from killing himself, are you going to kill him?– Hassan Choudhary

Choudry’s family said he was a frail man who suffered from diabetes, had a history of heart problems and had recently had lung surgery. The report states that the officer in charge was told that “Choudry could barely walk or breathe.”

“Faced with these concerns, and unable to obtain a visual on Mr. Choudry, [the officer in charge] was in a position where he had to weigh the risk of not acting in the event that Mr. Choudry was in medical distress, ”writes Martino, arguing that he does not accept that Choudry could not have walked towards the agents.

Despite this plan putting “on the train a series of events with devastating consequences”, he writes, this decision was not a “marked departure from what a reasonable person faced with the same choices would do”.

As to whether the Peel Police Crisis Mobile Unit, consisting of a policeman and a mental health professional, should have been called, Martino writes that they were “busy with another incident”. Regardless, the officer in charge told the SIU that the Crisis Mobile Team would not have been deployed in this case because a knife was involved – a topic that was also raised in d ‘other recent murderous interactions involving police, including that of Regis Korchinski-Paquet in Toronto.

Speaking about the case, former Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders previously told reporters: “I can’t put a nurse in a knife fight. “

Hashim Choudhary, Choudry’s nephew, addressed reporters outside the building where the fatal shooting took place. (Galit Rodan / The Canadian Press)

“Systemic issues” can only play a role in SIU decisions: report

Yet another case in a series of recent deadly confrontations with police involving people in crisis, including that of Korchinski-Paquet, D’Andre Campbell and Clive Mensah, the report acknowledges that “there were concerns that the police presence could worsen these situations and worse. “

“In Mr. Choudry’s case, his paranoia for the police played a significant role in his death and these concerns have obvious validity,” writes Martino.

Yet, he says, “While questions about police reform are of obvious importance, systemic problems in policing can only play a role in SIU decision-making when they are. relevant to the potential criminal culpability of a police officer ”.

Ultimately, he concludes, “I am not reasonably convinced for the foregoing reasons that Mr. Choudry’s shooting amounted to legally unwarranted force or was the culmination of negligent criminal conduct. “

Choudry’s family have been waiting for this verdict for months. They argued that Choudry should not have died during the meeting with the police.

“You have this man with all these medical conditions who can barely stand,” nephew Hassan Choudhary told CBC News.

“And instead of helping him and preventing him from killing himself, are you going to kill him?” ”

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