An RCMP investigation has reportedly found nothing wrong with the way officers handled the first hours after a fatal shooting last year on a Saskatchewan farm.
The Globe and Mail reported Thursday that the family of 22-year-old Colten Boushie filed a formal complaint in December 2016.
They alleged the RCMP acted with insensitivity when notifying them that Boushie had been shot and killed on a property near Biggar belonging to Gerald Stanley last August.
The family said officers arrived at a home belonging to Boushie’s mother, told her son was dead, then demanded to know if she’d been drinking before proceeding to search her home.
A senior RCMP officer was assigned to look into the matter and produce a report – a summary of which was delivered in a letter to the family last week and obtained by The Globe and Mail.
Inspector Teddy Munro conducted the investigation. Munro is himself Indigenous and not a member of the detachment under scrutiny.
The official response to the family was signed by Supt. Mike Gibbs, according to The Globe and Mail.
In the letter, RCMP reportedly state members were faced with a “unique” situation where they needed to notify the family and search the home at the same time.
Members told Boushie’s family they believed that a witness to the shooting might be inside and might be armed.
“According to the police account, Ms. Baptiste and one of her sons were still on the floor, where they’d been crying, when Corporal Jason Olney asked if he could ‘take a quick look around to see if anybody else was in the residence,’” the Globe and Mail reports.
The RCMP report indicates one of Baptiste’s sons gave Olney permission for the search — an account supported by another RCMP officer.
However, the report notes Olney could not say which of Baptiste’s two sons, William Boushie and Jace Baptiste, gave him the okay, “as he gets them mixed up.”
“In this incident there was no definitive evidence other than the word of the witnesses and the police,” Supt. Gibbs’s letter states, in reference to the search. “Based on the difference in the recollection of events by witnesses and that of the officers, I am unable to support your allegation.”
Boushie family lawyer Chris Murphy, a former special constable with the Battlefords RCMP detachment, said the report’s explanation didn’t make sense.
“Any police officer will tell you: If you believe there’s an armed person inside who doesn’t mean you well, you’re not going to have a conversation with Debbie Baptiste on the front steps of her trailer about her son being killed,” he said.
“You are then putting yourselves – the police officers – in harm’s way. And you’re putting the residents of the trailer in harm’s way.”
Murphy said he felt the report represented the tone of the RCMP investigation since the shooting.
“I just fear this investigation is a whitewash, and there was never an intention to get to the bottom of what really happened,” he said.
“This report is simply just an extension of the way this family has been treated since Debbie Baptiste’s son was killed.”
Murphy said the family plans to appeal the report’s findings to the RCMP’s civilian oversight body, with hopes of different findings.