Months after three men were fatally shot and a woman was injured by Peel Regional Police officers, community members took their calls for accountability and changes to a meeting with the mayors of Mississauga and Brampton.
“For months and months and months, we’ve got the run-around,” Chantelle Krupka, who was shot by a now-former Peel Regional Police on Mother’s Day, told reporters Wednesday afternoon before the meeting.
“We’re here to demand justice, we’re here to demand answers and we’re here to demand that the mayors take a stand on what is really a crisis that’s happening in our communities.”
Ontario’s police watchdog, the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), investigated the May 10 shooting of Krupka. She was shot by a former Peel police officer after police said they were called for a “domestic” matter. The SIU reported there was an “interaction” and the former officer shot Krupka, resulting in her being taken to hospital. She and her partner, Michael Headley, were also Tasered.
According to the police service, Valerie Briffa — a probationary constable — resigned from the service in June. The SIU announced in July Briffa was charged with criminal negligence causing bodily harm, assault with a weapon and careless use of a firearm. The charges haven’t been proven in court.
Francique’s family said the 28-year-old lived with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and was unarmed when he was shot in the back of the head on Jan. 7. Campbell’s family said the 26-year-old called 911 on himself on April 6, but they do not know why. He lived with schizophrenia, and the family said he was not a danger to anyone that day. Choudry’s family said they called a non-emergency line for help on June 20 while Choudry was in crisis and needed his medication, but police showed up. His death sparked protests that saw demonstrators occupy a local intersection for several days.
“We want the mayor of Brampton and the mayor of Mississauga to stand up and give us answers to why these aggressions have been happening, and why they haven’t taken a different approach, why they haven’t held the chief accountable about this?” Derek Francique, Jamal Francique’s father, told reporters before the meeting.
The SIU continues to investigate the deaths of Francique, Campbell and Choudry.
Krupka and family members, along with supporters, met with Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie and Patrick Brown at the Malton Community Centre Wednesday evening.
A petition by a community group called the Malton People’s Movement called was launched, outlining several demands of Crombie, Brown, Liberal MP Navdeep Bains, PC MPP Deepak Anand and Mississauga Coun. Carolyn Parish. The demands included identifying the officers involved in all of the related incidents and their “immediate termination without pay,” providing compensation to all of the affected parties or their families, dropping charges laid against blockade protesters in Malton, removing school resource officers from all Peel District School Board (currently suspended pending public consultations) and defunding Peel Regional Police to reallocate those funds to community programs.
Before the meeting, Crombie and Brown spoke briefly with reporters before going into the meeting. Both said they wanted to listen to the concerns of those in attendance, calling for increase mental health resources.
“This is their opportunity to speak with us. The City has put forward a number of initiatives with respect to anti-Black racism and to marginalized communities,” Crombie said.
“What I am concerned about is about police responding to mental health checks. What I am aware [of] is that there are only two mental health-care crisis units here in Peel Region with 1.4 million population responding to over 15,000 mental health checks and over 22,000 suicides.”
“I hope that these tragedies that we had recently are not simply a moment in time where there is collective pain but it leads to not just words but action,” Brown added.
Originally scheduled to meet for an hour, those in the meeting pushed for a longer time to speak. It eventually was extended to two hours. Crombie and Brown didn’t address reporters after the meeting. Those in attendance briefly blocked Crombie’s vehicle from leaving the centre.
Krupka said both mayors refused to sign the group’s petition as it would conflict with their roles on the Peel Police Services Board. She said both “seemed to care and express some sort of concern” and agreed to meet again with the families to look at the demands in greater detail.
“I say this meeting was a success … I think the voice of the community was heard. I think we did a great job standing up as a united front. We’re confident that steps are going to be taken from here but it’s just about making sure they’re concrete,” she said.
“Today we came into this meeting and let them know this is not a publicity stunt. This is our lives, this is the community that you need to answer to, and we made sure to keep it focused on the community and families in crisis.”
Khizar Shahzad, Choudry’s nephew, echoed Krupka and called Wednesday’s meeting “a very small step in a very long battle.”
“I’m not losing hope. Today shows … we are not alone,” he said.
“We nailed it into them that, ‘Hey listen, this is a problem not only in this community but many different communities and you have to listen,’ and I feel like they are listening.”
— With files from The Canadian Press
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.