Activists and Residents in Peel Region Continue to Demand an End to Police Impunity

Mississauga action demanding police accountability, October 20, 2020.

Activists and residents in Malton, a neighbourhood of Mississauga, in Peel Region, west of Toronto, continue to demand an end to police impunity in light of the inexcusable delay in providing justice for the families of three men who were shot and killed by Peel Regional Police earlier this year.

Jamal Francique, age 28, was killed in an "interaction" with Peel Regional Police in Mississauga, on January 7. The case was immediately referred to the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), the Ontario agency mandated to review any case involving a death or serious injury that may have been caused by a crime committed by a police officer. A press release issued by the SIU on July 24 states that "the fieldwork has been substantially completed" and the identity of the "subject officer,'" the one who actually shot and killed Mr. Francique, is known.

Ontario law imposes a duty on the Director of the SIU to recommend criminal charges against an on-duty officer who is known to have killed or injured someone in any case where there are "reasonable grounds" for charges to be laid. However, it has been more than nine months since Mr. Francique was killed and at least two months since the fieldwork was "substantially completed" and the killer identified. No reason has been given to the family or to the public to explain why charges have not been announced.

D'Andre Campbell, 26, was similarly killed in an "interaction" with Peel Regional Police in Brampton, also in Peel Region, on April 6. A press release issued by the SIU on June 11 states that the identity of the "subject officer" is known and that the SIU has statements from the four other police officers who were present, as well as from four members of Mr. Campbell's family. It has now been more than six months since Mr. Campbell was killed and more than four months since the SIU has had "reasonable grounds" to charge the shooter. No explanation has been given to the family or to the public for the delay in bringing charges.

Ejaz Choudry, a 62-year-old father of four, was alone in his apartment in Malton, when he was killed in an "interaction" with Peel Regional Police on June 20. Three members of the Peel Regional Police scaled a ladder to Mr. Choudry's second-storey balcony, pushed open the door to the apartment and, within seconds, began shooting through the doorway. All three then entered the unit, where one of them shot Mr. Choudry twice and killed him, even though the victim did not pose a danger to anyone. The sequence of events was captured on video by a neighbour living across the street. In a press release issued by the SIU on June 21, the SIU acknowledged that the video was in its possession. The press release also confirmed that the "subject officer" had been identified and that the other two officers had been interviewed. It has now been four months since the SIU has had sufficient evidence to charge Mr. Choudry's killer, but no answer has been given to the family or the community as to why the shooter has been allowed to escape criminal liability and, presumably continues to be deployed in the community.

Another outrageous incident on May 10 resulted in a serious injury to another innocent victim when two Peel officers attended on a domestic dispute call at a residence in another part of Mississauga. In the course of the encounter with the police, Chantelle Krupka and her partner Michael Headley were both hit with tasers. While she was lying on the ground, Ms. Krupka was shot in the abdomen by one of the police officers for no valid reason. Ms. Krupka required surgery for a shattered hip and has become a vocal advocate for justice for all the victims. In retaliation, the police have laid dubious criminal charges against her and Mr. Headley that have yet to be resolved.

Since the death of Mr. Choudry on June 20, community activists and family members of the victims have held a series of actions to call for justice for the victims and to unite the community to take a stand against police impunity. These started June 21 when activists occupied the intersection of Goreway Drive and Morningstar Drive in Malton, where Mr. Choudry had lived, to draw attention to the alarming number of fatal encounters with Peel Police this year.

June 27, 2020 Justice for Ejaz Choudry rally outside Peel Police Headquarters.

On June 27, a rally of close to 300 people was held in front of the new Peel Regional Police headquarters to denounce the police killings. Friends and families of the victims spoke out to express their grief and their desire for justice. They were joined by two imams from local mosques where Mr. Choudry was known for his kind and gentle nature.

Community residents at the July 1, 2020 rally.

On July 1, hundreds of people from the neighbourhood rallied at the same corner in Malton where Mr. Choudry lived. Spokespersons for the victims' families described how they have been faced with silence from the SIU and empty promises of compensation from local authorities. The speakers demanded that the identities of the shooters be made known and that they be fired so that the community can begin to feel safe, knowing the killers are no longer be free to carry out their criminal actions in the community with impunity.

Protest at Peel Police Division 22, July 16, 2020.

On July 16, activists held a protest at 22 Division of Peel Regional Police to demand that the concocted charges against Ms. Krupka and Mr. Headley be dropped. Just as the protest was about to start, Ms. Krupka learned from the SIU that the female officer who shot her, Valerie Briffa, had been charged with criminal negligence causing bodily harm, assault with a weapon, and careless use of a firearm (but not attempted murder). Ms. Briffa, a probationary officer for eight months, had already resigned.

March and vigil, July 20, 2020.

On July 20, the one-month anniversary of the killing of Mr. Choudry, a march and vigil in Malton again demanded an end to police impunity, especially in light of the lack of any answers from the SIU in the cases of the three shooting deaths.

Another rally for police accountability was held in Brampton on August 23, where the victims' families again had an opportunity to describe to the community and to the local media assembled for the event, the treatment they had received. Two family members of Mr. Francique presented a rap song dedicated to his memory and a young woman performed a rap song she has written exposing sham official concern about systemic racism, entitled "Why's It Taking So Long?" There were also emotional presentations by family members of two others who have died, in separate incidents, in the custody of the state in eastern Ontario, at the Central East Detention Centre in Lindsay.

Confronting politicians at September 2, 2020 event.

In response to a postering campaign demanding action from local authorities, activists were contacted by the office of Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie, who agreed to meet to discuss police violence. As a result, a face-to-face meeting was held on September 2 at the Malton Community Centre attended by Ms. Crombie, Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown and the local Member of Provincial Parliament Deepak Anand. At the event, family members of the victims voiced their outrage directly to the three politicians, especially the mayors, who listened politely and said they would gladly make a supportive public statement. However, the mayors refused to include any point condemning the police killings, citing their belief that it would jeopardize their positions on the Peel Police Services Board. The politicians also declined to make any statement agreeing that the police who are known to be killers should be held accountable for the crimes, despite being presented with documentation from the SIU showing there were grounds to charge the shooters without further delay.

March for police accountability, Mississauga, October 20, 2020.

In the face of the continued silence on the part of the SIU and the betrayal by the mayors, a spirited rally of more than 30 activists and residents was held during the evening rush-hour in Malton on October 20 once again demanding an end to police impunity and justice for the victims. Picketers displayed placards reading Punish the Police Criminals!Charge the Police Killers!End Impunity for Police Brutality!Stop Police Violence and Compensation for the Victims' Families! Many passing motorists honked their horns and raised their fists in approval, while neighbourhood residents left their names and contact information to be informed about future actions. The event was held on the four-month anniversary of the shooting death of Ejaz Choudry. Members of Mr. Choudry's family joined the protest, bringing with them their own signs including Silence is Violence.

As of October 22, the Special Investigations Unit has still not announced the charges to be laid against the killers in the three shooting deaths, nor has it given any reason for the unconscionable delay. Activists and community members plan to continue raising their voices for police accountability. Outreach is being done for another rally in November to demand an end to impunity and to secure compensation for the victims' families.

(Photos: TML.)

This article was published in

Volume 50 Number 40 - October 24, 2020

Article Link:
Activists and Residents in Peel Region Continue to Demand an End to Police Impunity - Lorne Gershuny


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