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Colten Boushie's family sues Gerald Stanley, RCMP
Published Thursday, August 9, 2018 12:29PM CST
Last Updated Friday, August 10, 2018 5:27PM CST
The family of Colten Boushie has filed lawsuits against several RCMP officers and Gerald Stanley seeking total damages of more than $1.86 million.
The suit against Stanley, filed by Boushie’s mother Debbie Baptiste, alleges Boushie’s death was “a direct result of the negligent, reckless or intentional acts” of Stanley.
In February, Stanley was found not guilty of second-degree murder in the death of 22-year-old Boushie.
The lawsuit alleges, among other things, that Stanley failed to contact authorities to deal with any potential risk; fatally shot Colten Boushie when he represented no risk; and failed to contact authorities on a timely basis after the shooting.
The statement of claim alleges that on August 9, 2016 around 5 p.m., Boushie arrived on the Stanley property with a flat tire.
Stanley and his son Sheldon noticed an occupant of the vehicle approach an ATV and yelled at the occupant, who quickly returned to the vehicle, the suit alleges.
Sheldon Stanley smashed the vehicles windshield with a hammer and chased it with a car, while Gerald Stanley ran to get his handgun and fired at least two warning shots in the air above the vehicle, the suit alleges.
Boushie entered the driver’s seat in a continued attempt to drive away, but before he could do so, Gerald Stanley ran up behind Boushie and fired a third shot into the back of his head from point blank range, the suit alleges.
None of the claims have been proven in court and a statement of defence has not been filed.
The suit seeks $410,000, covering funeral and out of pocket expenses, lost employment earnings and damages.
“He was shot at a very close range, whether that was an accident or intentional, at the end of the day, Colton was killed and a life was lost,” said Baptiste's lawyer for the claim, Eleanore Sunchild.
“Even though money won’t bring back Colten, it had to be filed because the family isn’t prepared to let it slide or let it go.”
Baptiste and Colten’s brothers Jace Boushie and Boyblue Boushie also filed a separate statement of claim against the Attorney General of Canada and six RCMP officers.
The claims have not been proven in court and a statement of defence has not been filed.
In a statement, Saskatchewan RCMP said: “Our sympathies remain with the family and friends of Colten Boushie, who have suffered such a tragic loss.
“We are fully cooperating with the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (CRCC). The CRCC is investigating the death of Mr. Boushie and the events that followed, including the next of kin notification, the search of the family residence, and the dissemination of media releases. The RCMP's handling of an initial complaint filed by a family member is also under review by the CRCC.
“As this matter is currently under independent review and is now before a civil court, it would be inappropriate to comment publicly at this time.”
The suit claims RCMP members “descended” upon the family’s home after responding to Stanley’s property “as though they were executing a tactical military mission” under the unlawful order of one of the six officers, or an officer yet to be identified.
The officers did not have a warrant to search the home, as the RCMP did not have evidence upon which any member could swear an information to obtain a warrant, the suit says.
After the officers told Baptiste that Colten Boushie had been shot dead, she fell to the porch and screamed, and around four officers entered the house with sidearms drawn, the suit alleges.
At no point did the family provide their consent for the search; or if they did it was not informed consent, the suit alleges.
The plaintiffs suffered several injuries as a result of the officers’ conduct including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and suicidal thoughts, the suit says.
The three seek damages totaling $1.45 million.
“The RCMP conducted a search of Debbie’s home at the same time they were notifying Debbie that her son had been killed that day. In our view, the RCMP members violated Debbie’s right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure, and violated her equality rights,” Baptiste's lawyer, Chris Murphy, told CTV News.
“There was no reason to believe, on reasonable grounds, by the RCMP, that there was any evidence in that home. So they either had the obligation to get a search warrant, or they had the obligation not to go into that home without consent.”
None of the claims have been tested in court. The defendants have 20 days to file a notice of defence. CTV News has reached out to Stanley’s lawyer Scott Spencer and the RCMP for comment.
Boushie's uncle, Alvin Baptiste, said: “Justice have never been served and that’s right from the get go of it all, and how discriminatory the system is towards Indigenous people.”
Update: Positive relationships between the Saskatchewan RCMP and Indigenous communities are the norm, despite Murphy's concerns, the department said in a statement Friday.
"Every day Saskatchewan RCMP officers and employees work collaboratively with our communities both Indigenous and non-Indigenous," Assistant Commissioner Curtis Zablocki said in the release.
"The Saskatchewan RCMP is committed to continue supporting and further developing these positive relationships."
Investigations are conducted objectively, thoroughly and without bias, the statement says.
Saskatchewan RCMP employees have long been engaged with Indigenous communities and leaders at all levels from local detachments to our most senior managers, the statement says.
Employees across the province work to build trust, strengthen relationships, and address challenges through their involvement with their local justice committees, youth activities and elders, the statement says.