Peel Regional Police Chief to hold town hall meetings in wake of police-involved shooting of man in crisis in Mississauga
On June 27, Peel Regional Police Chief Nishan Duraiappah announced plans to host town hall meetings in the wake of worldwide demonstrations against systemic racism and local protests against the police-involved shooting of Ejaz Ahmed Choudry (whose surname is sometimes spelt as "Chaudhry"), a 62-year-old man with schizophrenia who was killed by police after they entered his Malton apartment to conduct a wellness check.
"I know and fully understand the grief within the community, and continue to extend my heartfelt sympathies to the family, friends, and community of Mr. Ejaz Ahmed Choudry," Duraiappah said in a statement.
"The [police] service has been in constant dialogue with representatives of the family since the tragic events on June 20, 2020, that culminated in the death of Mr. Choudry. You have my commitment, as the chief, and that of this entire organization, to continue to be accountable to the people we serve."
Choudry's family members led hundreds of supporters in a march on Monday, demanding the officer who shot Choudry be fired and calling for a public inquiry.
The family says they called a non-emergency line for help while Choudry was in crisis last Saturday.
The incident occurred at a time when multiple advocacy groups are calling for police funding to be redirected to social supports, with many groups arguing that police should not be routinely asked to respond to mental health-related calls.
Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie has signalled that funding decisions for Peel police will be made “through a different lens” in the wake of the shooting.
The Special Investigations Unit is investigating the incident and the officers involved.
"Peel Regional Police was established as a means to help keep the community safe; this has not changed. We know our uniform and civilian members strive daily and work tirelessly to serve and keep the public safe," Duraiappah said.
"We are also aware that there are issues regarding the mental health system and the appropriate response to individuals in crisis. These have been identified as areas requiring immediate, progressive, and sustainable change."
Duraiappah said he will hold town hall meetings to "engage with the community and to listen and learn," adding that Peel police is collaborating with the Muslim Council of Peel, Muslim Advisory Committee, various other stakeholders, and a wide range of voices from communities of racialized people and persons with disabilities.
"I am committed to bringing about systemic change inclusive of a human-rights centric framework as we move forward," he said.
"In collaboration with other leaders we will advocate for alternatives to current mental health service delivery models. We are, and will, continue to work with you to address what faces us and our community to keep you safe in Peel Region."
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