Community honours life of man, 62, fatally shot by police in Mississauga
Ejaz Choudry described as giving man who knew all his neighbours, took care of others
Hundreds of mourners wearing masks gathered in a Mississauga park for a public funeral on Wednesday evening to honour the life of a man gunned down by police on the weekend.
Ejaz Ahmed Choudry, 62, was killed in his apartment by a Peel Regional Police officer on Saturday. Originally from Pakistan, Choudry was a husband and a father of four children.
According to his family, Choudry suffered from schizophrenia and he was having a mental health crisis when police went into his home for a wellness check and shot him. His family said they had called a non-emergency line.
Family members have said the officer responsible for the fatal shooting should be fired.
Nadia Hasan, chief operating officer of the National Council of Canadian Muslims, told CBC Toronto that the public funeral was an opportunity for his immediate and extended family, as well as the community, to pray for Choudry and his soul. It was held in Paul Coffey Park.
"He was an endeared member of the local Malton mosque as well as the Muslim community in Malton and even around his neighbourhood," Hasan said.
"What happened to Ejaz just doesn't add up," she said.
His family and people in the neighbourhood knew him as a gentle, giving person who played with young children and talked to all of his neighbours, she said. Shopkeepers in his neighbourhood knew him.
His killing has been met with disbelief and confusion, she said.
"He clearly left a good impression on everybody he met and made a connection with people he met. His extended family is here and they are a close-knit community, they are all just completely in shock that something like this could happen to someone like him," Hasan said.
Family members are angry and have called for justice.
"We need some accountability. At a minimum, what we need to see is that the police officer who was responsible for killing Ejaz Choudry should be taken off the force. That officer doesn't deserve to have a gun and a badge. He should be removed immediately," Hasan said.
Organizers of the funeral ensured that mourners could engage in physical distancing. People paying their respects were told to wear face masks, maintain two metres distance from others, and to bring their own prayer mats and chairs.
Imam Ibrahim Hindy, president of the Muslim Council of Peel, said he hopes that Choudry's family was able to take some comfort in the funeral and see the support of the community. He said family members were heartbroken at his death.
Hindy said Choudry was a devout man and it's important to remember the positive impact he had.
"People are trying to remember how kind he was and how loving he was and how he tried to take care of other people. People remember just how devout he was to his community and to local mosque. People are trying to remember how he lived his life," Hindy said.
Choudry's sudden death at the hands of police had an immediate impact on those who lived in the same building, he added. Hindy has called for a public inquiry into the death.
"People throughout the building that they live in are confiding in me and telling me how their children are scared to sleep at night. It's really shaken that community in a really deep way."
In a news release on Sunday, the province's police watchdog, the Special Investigations Unit, has said it is continuing to investigate his death.
Choudry will be buried on Thursday and his burial is said to be exclusively for family members.
With files from Taylor Simmons