Family's civil suit claims Gerald Stanley recklessly caused Colten Boushie's death

The family of Colten Boushie is taking Gerald Stanley, the Saskatchewan farmer acquitted in Boushie's shooting death, to civil court, claiming he recklessly caused Boushie's death.

Family says Stanley shot Boushie 'when he presented no risk'

The family of Colten Boushie is suing Gerald Stanley in civil court, claiming he recklessly caused Boushie's August 2016 death. (Liam Richards/The Canadian Press)

The family of Colten Boushie is taking Gerald Stanley, the Saskatchewan farmer acquitted in Boushie's shooting death, to civil court, claiming he recklessly caused Boushie's death. 

In a statement of claim filed in Saskatoon's Court of Queen's Bench Wednesday, Debbie Baptiste, Boushie's mother, claims Stanley negligently handled the gun that fired and killed Boushie, used excessive force in shooting Boushie "when he presented no risk" and failed to contact "any authorities on a timely basis" after Boushie was wounded.

Baptiste is seeking damages, including $20,000 for funeral expenses and $60,000 for grief counselling.

None of the allegations — which went public on the second anniversary of Boushie's death — has been proven in court.

Boushie, 22, was shot and killed after he and four others from the Red Pheasant Cree Nation drove onto Stanley's rural property in August 2016. An altercation occurred between the strangers in the SUV and Stanley, his son and his wife.

A jury found Stanley, 56, not guilty last February in the shooting death after a tense two-week trial.

Stanley testified he took out one of his handguns from his garage and believed it was empty of bullets by the time he went to the driver's side window where Boushie was seated.

Gerald Stanley said he was reaching into an SUV that was driven onto his rural property to turn the ignition off when his Tokarev pistol accidentally fired. (RCMP)

Stanley testified he thought the SUV had run over his wife before he reached into the vehicle to try to turn the ignition off.

That's when the gun fired, court heard.

Lawsuit launched against RCMP

Baptiste and two of Boushie's brothers are also taking the RCMP to civil court.

The family claims that on the night Boushie was shot, the RCMP searched Baptiste's home without reason and without a warrant, breaching the family's charter rights and freedoms.

Colten Boushie's mother Debbie Baptiste, right, is also suing the RCMP for what she claims is discriminatory behaviour toward her and her family. (Marc-André Cossette/CBC)

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

"The search officers who attended the home deliberately engaged in discrimination by subjecting three proud members of the Red Pheasant Nation to ridicule, unlawful searches, and humiliating breath tests."

The family's lawyer, Chris Murphy, claims the actions of the RCMP violated the family's charter rights.

"I think we hope that this lawsuit will force the RCMP to look deep within themselves and analyze whether or not they do in fact treat everyone in this province and country the same when it comes to social justice and legal issues," the family's lawyer, Chris Murphy, told Radio-Canada on Thursday. 

"These are not the types of things the national police force of Canada should be doing at the time they're notifying someone her youngest child has been killed."

The RCMP has said it was acting on a tip that a man, possibly armed, had fled the scene of Boushie's death to a trailer that looked like the one Boushie's family lived in.

The RCMP has issued a statement contesting Murphy's Thursday comments, saying they inaccurately depict the reality of officer relations with Saskatchewan communities.

"Investigations are conducted objectively, thoroughly and without bias," the RCMP said.

The RCMP is developing positive relationships with Saskatchewan people who are both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, Assistant Commissioner Curtis Zablocki​ said in the statement.

The Boushie family lawsuit against the RCMP comes as the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP conducts its own review of how the RCMP interacted with the Boushie family that night as well as the RCMP's investigation of Boushie's death.


Guy Quenneville

Reporter at CBC Saskatoon

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With files from Dan Zakreski and Radio-Canada