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SIU says officer in fatal shooting of Ejaz Choudry declines interview

Last Updated Jul 23, 2020 at 11:32 pm EDT

The province’s Special Investigations Unit says the report into the fatal shooting of Ejaz Ahmed Choudry is “substantially completed” but they are still waiting to interview the victim’s family.

In an updated released on Thursday, the SIU says the subject officer in the case has declined an interview and did not submit a copy of his notes, which they point out is within their legal right under the Police Services Act.

A lawyer for the family called it “troubling but not surprising” that the officer in question has refused to speak to the SIU.

“There is nothing he could possibly say that could excuse or justify shooting Ejaz,” Nader Hasan said in a statement released by the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM).

The NCCM says it continues to demand answers and accountability from police officials.

“The silence of the Peel Regional Police, in refusing to take clear action and in continuing to pass the proverbial buck to the SIU, speaks volumes,” said MCCM CEO Mustafa Farooq. “The fact that the officer declined to work with the SIU, in our estimation, speaks for itself. We are calling, once again, on Chief Duraiappah to finally do the right thing and take action.”

The police watchdog says it has not yet spoken with family members about the shooting, adding they are waiting for a response from their lawyer as to when they might be available to speak.

They are also waiting for some additional information from the family including access to what it called “relevant medical records” and results of a post-mortem conducted back on June 22.

Hasan says the family is willing to cooperate with the SIU but did not specifically address the question of the medical records request or when they might speak to investigators.

Peel police officers were called to Choudry’s apartment back on the evening of June 20 to check on his well being.

Choudry’s family has said they called a non-emergency line for help while Choudry was in crisis and needed his medication, but police showed up.

When police arrived, Choudry had barricaded himself inside the residence.

According to police, officers maintained constant communication with Choudry and were encouraging him to surrender, but just before 8 p.m., communication was cut off.

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

The victim’s nephew, Hassan Choudhary, said his uncle suffered from schizophrenia.

There was then an interaction between Choudry and officers once they were inside the residence.

According to the SIU a conducted energy weapon and firing plastic projectiles from an Anti-Riot Weapon ENfield were used on Choudry. They say when those methods had no effect, an officer discharged a firearm and Choudry was struck.

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

Choudry’s death sparked protests that saw demonstrators occupy a local intersection for several days.

The family has called for a public inquiry into his death and demanded that the officer who shot him be fired.

They have also voiced doubts about the SIU investigation.

The SIU says nine Peel Regional Police officers have been interviewed along with civilian witnesses. As well they have taken possession of video footage from the night of the incident.

A police-issued firearm, a conducted energy weapon and an anti-riot weapon, along with a knife were also recovered from the scene and have been sent to the Centre of Forensic Sciences for analysis.

The SIU is an arm’s length agency that investigates reports involving police where there has been death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault.

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