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Hundreds gather for rally outside Peel police headquarters, demanding 'justice' for Ejaz Choudry

Hundreds of peaceful protesters gathered for a rally outside Peel police headquarters on Saturday afternoon, demanding "justice" for Ejaz Choudry, who was killed by police officers one week ago. 

Choudry fatally shot by police during a mental health crisis in Mississauga on June 20

A rally was held on Saturday for Ejaz Choudry, 62, who was shot and killed by police in his apartment in Mississauga last week. His family says he suffered from schizophrenia and other illnesses. (Lorenda Reddekopp/CBC)

Hundreds of peaceful protesters gathered for a rally outside Peel police headquarters on Saturday afternoon, demanding "justice" for Ejaz Choudry, who was killed by police officers one week ago. 

The rally, which was organized by the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), officially started around 4 p.m. 

The victim's nephew, Hassan Choudhary, attended the rally, calling for answers in his uncle's death. 

"At the end of the day, we want answers for what occurred," he told CBC News Saturday. 

"It's been seven days since the murder of my uncle, and we still haven't got any answers." 

Ejaz Choudry's family, along with people in the neighbourhood, have described him as a gentle, giving person. His nephew said he would play with young children and talk to all of his neighbours. 

A child holds a sign at Saturday's protest, reading 'Justice 4 Ejaz.' (Mehrdad Nazarahari/CBC)

"He would just say 'Hello' to everyone," Hassan Choudhary said. "Everybody understood how harmless he was. He was not a criminal." 

"It's so frustrating; we're grieving for the last seven days but we can't grieve properly because we haven't been given answers." 

Protesters held signs at the event Saturday, and could be heard chanting "Justice for Ejaz." 

A Peel Regional Police officer shot and killed Ejaz Choudry, 62, on June 20 in Mississauga, Ont., while responding to a call about a man in mental distress. 

According to his family, he 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. 

Originally from Pakistan, Choudry was a husband and a father of four children. Hundreds of mourners wearing masks gathered in a Mississauga park for a public funeral on Wednesday evening to honour his life. 

Choudry is the third Canadian in the last month to die after police carried out a wellness check. 

His death comes amid growing anger and demands for answers in the death of D'Andre Campbell as well as Regis Korchinski-Paquet, who fell from her family's Toronto apartment balcony after her family called 911. 

Several rallies have been held in the area of Choudry's home in the days following his death. 

Family members of D’Andre Campbell, another man with schizophrenia who was shot by a Peel police officer, were also at the rally, calling for justice in the deaths of Campbell and Choudry. (Lorenda Reddekopp/CBC)

"The only person he was in danger of harming was himseld," said NCCM CEO Mustafa Farooq in a speech at the event on Saturday. 

"He was shot, he was killed and he didn't deserve to die." 

Farooq said he's "tired of hearing the story, again and again, of violence." 

"We're here so that no more names get added to this refrain," Farooq said, speaking to the deaths of Campbell and Korchinski-Paquet, as well as the beating case of Dafonte Miller

"Change has to happen today," Farooq said to the backdrop of cheering and applause from the crowd. 

Hundreds of people attended Saturday's rally. (Mehrdad Nazarahari/CBC)

'I know and fully understand the grief within the community'

Chief Nishan Duraiappah issued a statement on Saturday, saying he continues to extend his "heartfelt sympathies to the family, friends, and community" affected by Choudry's death. 

"I know and fully understand the grief within the community," Duraiappah said in the statement. 

"You have my commitment, as the Chief, and that of this entire organization, to continue to be accountable to the people we serve." 

The province's police watchdog, the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), has said it is continuing to investigate his death.

Duraiappah said the officers involved in the "tragic events on June 20" are currently under investigation by the SIU. Once the investigation is concluded, he said police will advise the family and the community about their "next steps." 

Ejaz Choudry's family says he suffered from schizophrenia and other illnesses. (Submitted by Choudry family)
 

Duraiappah also said that police are 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." 

'All we're hearing is condolences'

While Hassan Choudhary said he appreciates the chief's condolences, he says police have not been in touch with him or his family "at all." 

"Nobody understands what's going on," he said. "We want to know exactly what happened." 

"All we're hearing is condolences but we want an answer." 

Khizar Shahzad, who is also a nephew of the victim, agrees. 

Khizar Shahzad, a nephew of the victim, speaking at Saturday's event. He and other family members are demanding answers from police and the SIU. (Mehrdad Nazarahari/CBC)

"It's been seven days and those officers are still out there," he said on Saturday.  "I don't understand, everyone here knows, everyone has seen the videos." 

"Just do something about it, enough of your words." 

With files from Lorenda Reddekopp

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