Officers Using Force: A New Epidemic
BY: Samiha Mozammel
The past month has seen countless cases of police brutality towards minority groups; it has almost started to feel like a daily occurrence. The newest case added to the mix? The killing of a 62-year-old man by the name of Ejaz Chaudhry.
Ejaz was fatally shot by Peel Regional Police after they had received a distress call to conduct a wellness check. Officers were called to the residence as family members of Ejaz were concerned that he might be of danger to himself, as he was schizophrenic. Ejaz locked himself into the room where police soon entered with force after family members of Ejaz had begged them not to enter in a forceful manner, as it would scare the man. Eye witness reports say police believed Ejaz had access to weapons and was a danger to himself, and that upon entering the apartment, the police used a taser and fired rubber bullets. An officer used their firearm multiple times after this, killing Ejaz on scene. Family of Ejaz say that he would not have used a weapon and that he was described as a “harmless man”.
In the days following, family, friends, and community members have taken to the streets to protest the wrongful death of Ejaz. Protesters believe the way the officers handled the situation was horrific. They were called out of distress as his family members expected them to help, but in turn the officers caused Ejaz’s untimely death. NDP leader Jagmeet Singh has also spoken on this, expressing that officers should not be the ones responding to distress calls, but should be healthcare workers. Many people agree with this statement, saying that officers have no training in de-escalating a situation where the person is a danger to themselves or where mental illness is involved. If officers have no knowledge of how mental illness works, how can they successfully provide the help that civilians need in times of crisis?
The story of Ejaz Chaudhry is the second in the past few weeks regarding a wrongful killing during a distress call. Regis Korchinski-Paquet fell from her balcony on May 27th after officers had entered her residence responding to a distress call of a similar manner. Earlier in April, Peel Police had fatally shot a man by the name of D’Andre Campbell who had called 911 in distress, as he also had a history of mental illness and posed a threat to himself.
Some believe these cases may be racially charged, as Regis and D’Andre were both black, while Ejaz was South Asian. Others believe that officers act on instinct, or are too “trigger-happy”. Officers failed to and will continue to fail to keep civilians safe if they use force and lethal weapons during these distress calls. In these times of crisis, officers failed to protect the lives of these three victims and countless others. Many believe Ejaz would still be here if the police had not been called that night.
Wrongful deaths at the hands of police should be looked into extensively, especially if it seems to be a common occurrence. Police are meant to protect and serve, but they are not equipped with the knowledge and expertise to do exactly that. The system is broken, and Canadians are demanding reform.
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