Skip to main content

The family of an Indigenous man shot to death on a Saskatchewan farm has filed lawsuits against the RCMP and the farmer who was acquitted in the killing.

Colten Boushie was killed after being shot in the head on a farm near the community of Biggar in August 2016.

Gerald Stanley, the landowner, was found not guilty of second-degree murder after testifying that his gun went off accidentally as he was shooting to scare away young people he thought were stealing from him.

The claim against Mr. Stanley, filed in a Saskatoon court, argues that the farmer caused Mr. Boushie’s death through negligence, recklessness, or by an intentional act.

“This lawsuit will prove that the death of Colten Boushie was wrongful and that the Boushie family suffered a profound and devastating loss the night Colten was fatally shot,” lawyer Eleanore Sunchild said in a statement Thursday.

“This lawsuit will hold the person responsible for Colten’s wrongful death accountable. Nothing can return Colten to his family, yet the Boushie family will continue its relentless pursuit of justice for Colten.”

None of the allegations have been proven in court. Mr. Stanley’s lawyer did not immediately return requests for comment.

The suit argues that Mr. Stanley or his family members never attempted to contact police when they saw the young people on the property. It also says that Mr. Stanley’s wife, Leesa, is a registered nurse and didn’t take any action to provide life-saving measures.

Mr. Boushie’s mother, Debbie Baptiste, is seeking $30,000 for herself, $20,000 for funeral expenses, $60,000 in expenses, $100,000 because she was unable to work after her son’s death, and $200,000 in damages.

Mr. Boushie’s family is also suing the attorney-general of Canada and individual RCMP officers over the way they were treated on the night Mr. Boushie died.

The claim says that officers didn’t present a search warrant when they arrived at the family’s home at Red Pheasant First Nation when they were looking for Cassidy Cross-Whitstone, who was in the vehicle with Mr. Boushie at Mr. Stanley’s farm.

The family says no consent was sought to enter the home and that one officer grabbed Ms. Baptiste by her wrist and told her get herself together as she was on the ground, inconsolable.

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

Chris Murphy, another lawyer working with the Boushies, said in a statement that he expects the lawsuit will make the force “look deep within itself and examine the manner in which the RCMP interacts with the Indigenous citizens of Canada.”

The RCMP said in a statement that its sympathies remain with the family and friends of Mr. Boushie. The Mounties said that they are fully co-operating with an independent review of what took place.

“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 RCMP said.

Interact with The Globe