Identities of officers involved in death of Mississauga father Ejaz Choudry to be made public, court rules (2024)

An "unprecedented" request made by a Toronto area police service to shield the identities of the officers involved in the 2020 death of Ejaz Choudry has been rejected by the courts.

In an Ontario Superior Court decision handed down on Monday, Justice Paul Perell ruled that granting a publication ban and an anonymity order in the civil proceedings would have “significant negative effects” on freedom of expression and open court principle.

  • Download our app to get local alerts on your device
  • Get the latest local updates right to your inbox

"The whole of civil society has an interest in scrutinizing the administration of justice in a civil action that involves how that society is being policed," Perell wrote in his decision. "Without knowing the names of the John Doe Officers, journalists and the public have no way of knowing whether any of them may have been involved in previous incidents, and whether there may be a systemic problem or an isolated incident."

Choudry, who had schizophrenia, was fatally shot by police inside his Mississauga apartment on the evening of June 20, 2020. Hours earlier, his family called the non-emergency helpline and told dispatchers that the father of four was suffering from a mental health crisis. After unsuccessful attempts to negotiate with Choudry to exit the residence, officers breached the second-story apartment. Within seconds, Choudry was Tasered, hit with rubber projectiles, and hit by two bullets. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Two of the officers in the room that evening later told investigators with Ontario's Special Investigations Unit (SIU) – a provincial arms-length agency that investigates police interactions resulting in serious injury, death, or allegations of sexual assault – that Choudry had moved at them with a knife after they entered the home.

In 2021, the SIU found no reasonable grounds to charge any of the officers with criminal offences and cleared all five, a decision that was met with protests across the city.

With no avenue to lay criminal charges, Choudry's family launched a multi-million-dollar civil lawsuit against Peel Regional Police, its chief, and five unnamed officers in 2022, alleging they turned a "straightforward mental health call" into a "high-risk tactical operation" that resulted in the father of four's death.

It is these civil proceedings, and the subsequent public court records produced, in which Justice Perell dismissed the motion to protect the officers’ identities.

In a hearing held earlier this month, lawyers for the officers argued that their clients’ right to safety outweighed any negative effects on the open court principle and the public’s right to know the officers’ identities.

Ted Key, representing the officers, told the court that at some of the protests that were held in the wake of Choudry's death, participants displayed 'Wanted' posters featuring the image of Peel Police Chief Nishan Duraiappah and calling officers involved in civilian deaths' murderers.' At a different protest, one participant said they would "blow up a police station uni-bomber style" if anything happened to their family member at the hands of police. In another instance, a civilian told an officer he was a "marked man."

None of these incidents directly targeted the officers involved in the death of Choudry, as they had not yet been identified. But the officers wrote in affidavits that the conduct, along with the formation of community groups calling for their identities to be revealed, left them feeling fearful and threatened.

Simon Beiber, counsel for the Choudry family, argued that the officers had failed to provide the evidence needed to prove their safety would indeed be at risk if they were identified. The author of the threat assessment reports submitted by police had not been present at any of the protests and had crafted the report using “cherry-picked” accounts of others, Beiber told the court.

In his written reasonings, Justice Perell called the police’s request “unprecedented and untypical.”

“Based on the [...] evidence and what I can infer by common sense and common knowledge, I am not persuaded that the court should exercise its discretion to grant the orders requested,” Perell wrote.

“The risk to police officers is real and inherent, but in the immediate case the realization or actualization of that risk based on the evidence is speculative and remote and does not rise to the level for an erosion or encroachment on the open court principle,” the judge continued.

Perell made no order on costs, requesting submissions from both parties in writing on the matter.

Following Monday’s decision, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, a non-profit organization that acted as one of four intervenors in the case, commended the dismissal.

“As the CCLA argued and the Court recognized in its decision, it is vital that the public know about allegations of police misconduct, be able to identify repeat bad actors, and see justice be done,” director of the Criminal Justice Program at the CCLA, Shakir Rahim, said in a statement.

The civil proceedings are ongoing.

Identities of officers involved in death of Mississauga father Ejaz Choudry to be made public, court rules (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Moshe Kshlerin

Last Updated:

Views: 5970

Rating: 4.7 / 5 (57 voted)

Reviews: 88% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Moshe Kshlerin

Birthday: 1994-01-25

Address: Suite 609 315 Lupita Unions, Ronnieburgh, MI 62697

Phone: +2424755286529

Job: District Education Designer

Hobby: Yoga, Gunsmithing, Singing, 3D printing, Nordic skating, Soapmaking, Juggling

Introduction: My name is Moshe Kshlerin, I am a gleaming, attractive, outstanding, pleasant, delightful, outstanding, famous person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.