Saskatoon

RCMP watchdog's probe into Colten Boushie case to wrap by end of 2019

An independent probe into how RCMP members investigated the death of Colten Boushie and interacted with his family is nearing its conclusion. 

Review looking at whether the RCMP's investigation into Boushie's shooting was reasonable

Colten Boushie pictured here was fatally shot in the head by Gerald Stanley in 2016. Stanley was acquitted in 2018. (Jade Tootoosis/Facebook )

An independent probe into how RCMP members investigated the death of Colten Boushie, including how they interacted with his family, is nearing its conclusion. 

Boushie, 22, was shot and killed during an altercation with Biggar, Sask.-area farmer Gerald Stanley in August 2016. A jury at Stanley's trial found him not-guilty of second-degree murder in February 2018.

The Civilian Review and Complaints Commission (CRCC) for the RCMP says its investigation into the events following Boushie's death is expected to wrap by the end of 2019 — nearly two years after the commission's probe began. 

The CRCC is an independent agency that conducts reviews when complainants are not satisfied with the RCMP's handling of the file.

The RCMP already cleared its officers of any wrongdoing following an internal investigation.

An independent probe into how RCMP members investigated the death of Colten Boushie and interacted with his family is nearing its conclusion. The process was sparked by a complaint about RCMP conduct filed by Boushie's uncle Alvin Baptiste, left, seen here with Boushie's mother Debbie Baptiste. (Jason Warick)

This sparked a complaint by Boushie's uncle, Alvin Baptiste, who asked for the CRCC to review the complaint.

The CRCC's review looked not just at whether the RCMP's investigation of Boushie's death was reasonable, but whether RCMP members followed policy and whether they discriminated against the Boushie family on the basis of race. Boushie was from the Red Pheasant Cree Nation. 

According to documents previously obtained by CBC News, the CRCC review was delayed in part by the "RCMP's delays in responding to and delivering relevant materials" to the CRCC.

In an update last week, a spokesperson for the CRCC said, "The RCMP has provided the CRCC with the requested documentation allowing the CRCC to complete its investigation."

Next steps

The CRCC's report, including recommendations, will be reviewed by the RCMP. This review will be followed by a written response from the RCMP commissioner, confirming which recommendations the RCMP will act on.

"If no action is to be taken, the commissioner must provide reasons," said a CRCC spokesperson. Once the CRCC receives the RCMP's response, a final report from the CRCC will be made public. 

Concern about evidence preservation

Stanley's jury trial heard that RCMP officers who were tasked with securing the scene at Stanley's farm did not tarp over the vehicle Boushie was shot in before rain washed away some evidence — an oversight that troubled the Boushie family following the trial.

The Boushie has questioned why police did not cover the car where Colten Boushie was shot when it rained at the scene. (RCMP)

The family also raised concerns about how RCMP members notified them about Boushie's death.

Debbie Baptiste, Boushie's mother, previously told CBC News that on the night of Boushie's death, RCMP officers entered her home with weapons drawn before informing her of her son's death.

Baptiste said that after she collapsed on the floor, one RCMP officer told her to "get it together" and then asked, "Have you been drinking?"

RCMP response

In a previous statement, the RCMP said it was not officers' intention to cause any pain. Officers had received a tip that an armed person might have been in a trailer matching the description of the one Baptiste lived in.

"The response to any major incident is often dynamic and complex. In addition to doing the next of kin notification, the officers also had to ensure there was no risk to officer and public safety," stated the RCMP. 

In August 2018, the Boushie family also filed a civil suit against the RCMP. It claimed that officers searched Baptiste's home without reason and without a warrant, breaching the family's charter rights and freedoms.

"The RCMP descended upon the home as though they were executing a tactical military mission," said the statement of claim.

As of Sept. 1 of this year the RCMP had not filed a statement of defence.

About the Author

Guy Quenneville

All-platform journalist for CBC Saskatoon

Story tips? guy.quenneville@cbc.ca

with files from Jason Warick and Catharine Tunney

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