Ontario’s police watchdog is looking into the events that led to the death of a man in an officer-involved shooting in Mississauga on Saturday.
Peel Regional Police said emergency crews were called to an apartment building on Morningstar Drive, near Goreway Drive, just before 5:10 p.m. to respond to a man in crisis who had not been taking his medication.
“Communication was made with the man. However, he had barricaded himself inside his residence,” Const. Sarah Patten told reporters Saturday evening.
“Due to information received on the extensive medical history that the man had as well as the man refusing to speak to police any longer, the decision was made to enter the residence to check on his well-being.
“Upon entering, an interaction did occur between police and the man, and shots were fired by police. Despite efforts made by paramedics, the man did succumb to his injuries.”
Patten said officers were informed that the man in question had access to weapons, but she did not specify exactly what type of weapons they were told he had. She added that they believed the man was a danger to himself.
The man’s family, who identified him as 65-year-old Ejaz Choudhary, said he was schizophrenic.
Choudhary’s nephew, Khizar Shahzab, said his uncle had a knife when paramedics originally arrived, which he claims led to them informing police that he was armed.
“We’ve dealt with this many, many times,” said Shahzab about his uncle’s mental illness, adding that Choudhary was also physically frail.
Shahzab claimed he told police that if they approached his uncle aggressively his uncle would react violently and that police would end up killing him.
“(An officer) told me word for word, ‘We will go upstairs peacefully,’” he said.
“They went from the back with a ladder. They went upstiars while standing outside on the baclony, they shot him … they shot him in cold blood.”
Muhammad Choudry identified himself at the scene as a nephew of the man shot by police.
“He’s 65. He can barely breathe! What threat was he to them?” he asked.
Choudry said he has dealt with his uncle while in crisis before and that “he’s always calm when family talks to him.” Based on that knowledge, he claimed he and other members of the family asked police if they could personally help calm his uncle down to avoid a situation like this. However, Choudry alleged they were rebuffed.
“They shot him five times in cold blood. What kind of justice is that?” he said.
A video circulating online purporting to have been taken at the scene appeared to show three tactical officers standing on a second-floor balcony with a ladder behind them.
They could be seen kicking open a door and can be heard yelling, “Ejaz! Put it down! Put the knife down!” It appeared officers fired a volley of five shots before entering the unit and yelling “put the knife down” again and then two more shots are heard.
According to a press release issued by the Special Investigations Unit early Sunday, the watchdog agency said police first used a Taser and plastic projectiles from a riot control gun. When those allegedly proved ineffective, they used lethal rounds.
It’s unclear exactly how many rounds of each type of bullet were used.
The SIU is an independent organization that investigates the conduct of officers involved in incidents where death or serious injury has occurred.
The SIU said it has assigned six investigators and three forensic investigators to the case. Anyone with information or video evidence was asked to contact the lead investigator at 1-800-787-8529.
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