Police authorities in Canada’s Ontario state have sought a publication ban on the names of the officers involved in the killing of Pakistan-born Canadian national Ejaz Choudry, a father of four with schizophrenia who was shot dead by cops in 2020.
Peel Regional Police have claimed that publishing the identities of the five officers would put them and their families at risk, according to CBC News.
The officers involved in the killing of the 62-year-old in June 2020 after his family called a non-emergency line when he was in crisis.
“The officers fear for their safety and mental wellness, and for that of their family members,” the lawyers of the police officers said in a notice to the Ontario Supreme Court in May.
One officer involved in the shooting was quoted as saying that he is scared of going out in public with his family amid “threats and intimidation on social media and during protests,” according to the petition filed in the court.
Reacting to the police petition, the victim’s family members said the move is simply an attempt to hide from the public.
“Despite ignoring my father’s safety and well-being in the midst of a mental health crisis, these officers have asked the courts to respect and prioritise theirs,” Choudry’s daughter, Nemrah Ahmad, told CBC News.
“It’s simply an excuse to keep their names hidden from the public,” Ahmad said. “There needs to be transparency and accountability.”
The motion is set to be heard next April. The family’s lawyers, Simon Bieber and Chris Grisdale, declined to comment.
The motion comes as Choudry’s family prepares for a lengthy court battle after their hopes for criminal charges were dashed when Ontario’s police watchdog declined to lay charges against the officers involved.
Choudry’s family claimed in the petition that they called Peel paramedics around 5:30pm on June 20, 2020 concerned he wasn’t taking his schizophrenia medication. Choudry appeared confused, they said. It wasn’t the first time they’d seen this happen and previous incidents were dealt with “without incident”.
But instead of receiving medical attention, Choudry would die that day.
Choudry’s daughter told the dispatcher he had a small pocket knife with him, but that he wasn’t dangerous. Paramedics contacted the police for help, who told Choudry’s family to leave the home.
When police arrived, they asked in English to see Choudry’s knife, a request his daughter had to translate. Choudry then revealed a 20-centimetre kitchen knife from under the mat he was sitting on and told police to leave.
According to the lawsuit, Choudry said he “would not leave his home because he was afraid that the officers would shoot him.” Later, when a Punjabi-speaking officer arrived, Choudry told him he had no intention of hurting himself, according to the family’s civil claim.
Nevertheless, rather than waiting for a mobile crisis unit, officers assembled in front of Choudry’s door and on his balcony with a plan to apprehend him under the Mental Health Act. Choudry stopped responding to police around 8 pm, after which police forced their way into the home and shouted at him in English, the suit said.
Within 11 seconds of breaking down Choudry’s door, police tasered him, shot three rubber bullets at him and fired two bullets into his chest, killing him.