Family members of an Indigenous man shot dead on a Saskatchewan farm two years ago are pursuing legal action against the man acquitted in his death and RCMP officers who were involved in the case.
Colten Boushie’s mother, Debbie Baptiste, has filed a statement of claim against Gerald Stanley, who shot and killed Boushie near Biggar, Sask. on Aug 9, 2016.
Stanley was acquitted of second-degree murder in February after testifying that he believed Boushie and others who arrived on his rural property in an SUV were trying to steal his ATV. He said Boushie was hit accidentally by a bullet fired as a warning shot.
Baptiste alleges that Boushie died as a result of “negligent, reckless or intentional acts” on Stanley’s part, including failing to contact authorities, excessive force, illegally storing firearms and failing to render medical assistance.
The claim says Baptiste suffered damages including grief, loss of income, loss of earning capacity, and funeral expenses. She’s seeking $410,000.
A second statement of claim has been filed by Baptiste, along with Boushie’s brothers Jace Boushie and Boyblue Boushie, against seven RCMP officers and the Attorney General of Canada. That suit is seeking a total of $1.45 million.
The family alleges that the RCMP violated their Charter rights and illegally entered their home without a warrant while searching for one of the SUV’s occupants on the night that Boushie was killed.
“The RCMP members descended upon the home as thought they were executing a tactical mission,” the statement of claim alleges.
“One of the search officers, who did not identify himself, told Debbie that Colten had been shot and that he was dead,” the statement of claim goes on.
The statement of claim says that Baptiste was “inconsolable” upon learning her son had been killed and that one of the officers “grabbed her by the wrist” and told her “to get herself together.”
The claim says that all three family members suffered depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, loss of income and suicidal ideation, among other damages, as a result of the RCMP’s actions.
None of the claims have been tested in court.
Chris Murphy, who is one of the lawyers representing the family members, told CTV Saskatoon that he believes the RCMP treated his clients with disdain and discrimination.
“They knew before they went to the house that searching the house was unlawful and that the unlawful search of the home was likely to cause injury to Debbie and her sons,” Murphy said.
“In this province in particular, there is a distinction between how the RCMP interacts with First Nation people and non-First Nation people,” he added.
Stanley’s lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CTV Saskatoon.
The RCMP said in a written statement that it would be “inappropriate to comment” on the lawsuit due to an investigation by the RCMP’s Civilian Review and Complaints Commission into “the next of kin notification, the search of the family residence, and the dissemination of media releases.”
“Our sympathies remain with the family and friends of Colten Boushie, who have suffered such a tragic loss,” the RCMP said.
With files from CTV Saskatoon’s Angelina Irinici