Gerald Stanley has told his version of what happened the night Colten Boushie died for the first time in public.
The 56-year-old farmer took the stand in his second-degree murder trial on Monday, telling court he didn’t pull the trigger with his gun pointing towards 22-year-old Boushie on Aug. 9, 2016.
“It just went off,” he said.
Stanley corroborated his son’s earlier testimony, saying they were working on a fence when a “very loud” vehicle came into their yard and stopped by a gold truck he had been working on for a client.
He said one person got out of the SUV and into the truck, rummaging around under the seats and flipping the visors.
Another person got out and walked on the passenger side of the vehicle as it made its way towards Stanley’s shop.
“What the hell is going on here?” Stanley said his son asked him.
When the SUV got to the shop, Stanley said he and his son went running towards them — Sheldon slightly ahead.
Then they heard their quad turn on, with a “very distinct” sound. Stanley reached the area and told court it was Eric Meechance who was trying to “rev it up.”
When the Stanleys continued to yell, the two people got back in the vehicle — on the passenger side, Stanley said — and they turned into reverse.
Stanley said he kicked the tail light, and when the SUV went forward again it looked like it was going straight for Sheldon. He said that was when his son hit the windshield with a hammer.
“What were you thinking at that point?” his lawyer, Scott Spencer asked.
“I thought, ‘well that was pretty exciting,’” Stanley replied. “I thought they were going back up to the road.”
However, the SUV took a “hard turn” into his wife’s blue Ford Escape, then crawled to a halt near the lawn.
Stanley said he saw his son run, and thought he was going to continue to confront the intruders.
“I wanted to help him,” Stanley said, noting he went to his shed to grab a handgun. “The one I use for noise making.”
Stanley said he thought he only loaded two rounds into his Tokarev pistol, and walked at a brisk pace back out into the yard.
He demonstrated to court with the gun itself, showing how he raised his arm in the air and pulled the trigger “two or three times” for warning shots.
He said he fired the shots to scare two people standing at the end of the driveway. After the second “boom,” — as he described it — they ran.
Stanley said he then took the magazine out of the gun, holding the pistol in his right hand, and continued towards the SUV.
“As far as I was concerned it was empty and I had fired my last shot,” he said.
He said he noticed the riding lawn mower just in front of the SUV, which his wife Leesa had been using before the confrontation, and worried she had been run over.
He went to kneel down, but the SUV began revving up again.
Stanley said he stood back up and noticed the driver, with what he thought was a piece of rebar sticking out the window.
He said he hit the rebar with his left hand then reached in to grab the keys, and wasn’t aware of where his right hand was.
Then the third “boom” happened.
“I couldn’t believe what just happened. Everything went silent,” he said.
After the shot went off, Stanley said he saw his wife standing nearby. He then turned and walked towards the shop and turned off the quad, which he said was still idling.
Then he went inside the shop and sat down.
Stanley contends he experienced a “hang fire” when the gun discharged, saying his finger wasn’t on the trigger when it fired.
He said he didn’t intentionally point the gun at anyone that day, or threaten anyone.
The defence has been focused on the hang fire possibility, bringing his own firearms expert to testify on Friday to say the bulge found in a casing on the SUV’s dash could have been caused by such an incident.
However, the expert said he wasn’t able to produce a hang fire with the Tokarev.
A Crown firearms specialist told court on Thursday a hang fire could only theoretically delay a shot by 0.5 seconds.
Crown questions Stanley’s story
Crown Prosecutor Bill Burge cross-examined Stanley for nearly an hour-and-a-half after the initial testimony, asking why the farmer would still be holding the gun when he approached the SUV.
Stanley insisted he thought the gun was disarmed.
“When it’s empty it’s just a piece of metal,” he said.
“Unless it blows somebody in the head,” Burge responded.
The Crown lawyer also questioned why Stanley pulled the trigger three or more times, if he thought he had only loaded two rounds into the chamber.
Stanley said he wanted to “let myself know it was empty without looking at the gun.”
The farmer noted he didn’t know what was going on with his right hand – which was holding the gun – when he was reaching across Boushie with his left hand to turn off the SUV.
Burge asked if he didn’t know what his hand was doing, how could he know if he pulled the trigger.
“I didn’t … I know that,” Stanley said.
The defence closed their case Monday evening.
Chief Justice Martel Popescul said the jury was excused until Thursday while he developed his written charge. He said the lawyers would deliver their closing arguments then, and then the jury would be sequestered to render their verdict.