Two years after his shooting death sparked outrage and tension in rural Saskatchewan, the family of Colten Boushie is suing Gerald Stanley and the RCMP.
Debbie Baptiste, Boushie’s mother, and his brothers Jace and Boyblue Boushie are listed as plaintiffs in the lawsuits filed on Wednesday afternoon.
Boushie was fatally shot in the head on Aug. 9, 2016 after he and a group of friends drove onto the Stanley farm, where an altercation ensued.
Stanley was charged with second degree murder after the incident. During his trial, he testified the Ford Escape Boushie was in pulled up to a quad and someone tried to start it — at which point Stanley and his son yelled and ran towards the vehicle.
The Escape ended up crashing in the yard, and Stanley said he grabbed a Tokarev semi-automatic pistol and fired warning shots into the air. He said he believed the gun was empty when he walked up to the SUV and attempted to turn it off, struggling with the driver. He said the gun “just went off.”
Stanley was acquitted by a jury on Feb. 9.
The lawsuit filed against Stanley by Boushie’s family claims the Red Pheasant man’s death was a result of Stanley’s “negligent, reckless or intentional acts.”
It alleges Stanley failed to properly assess the “initial risk” of the situation, failed to “contact any authorities to deal with any potential risk,” and he used “excessive force when it was uncalled for.”
“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,” Elanore Sunchild, a lawyer representing Colten’s estate in the claim said in a news release. “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.”
The statement of claim also alleges Stanley’s wife Leesa didn’t try to help Boushie after the shooting.
“Leesa Stanley, a Registered Nurse in the province of Saskatchewan, did not take any action to assess the condition of Colten Boushie or to provide life saving measures,” the lawsuit reads.
The lawsuit seeks $30,000 in damages to be paid directly to Baptiste, $20,000 in funeral expenses, $60,000 in grief counselling, $60,000 in out-of-pocket expenses, $100,000 in lost employment earnings for Baptiste, and $200,000 in “aggravated, exemplary and punitive damages to be proven at trial.”
RCMP CHALLENGED FOR SEARCH OF MOTHER’S HOME
A separate court filing by the family on Wednesday is also calling for $1.45 million in damages to be paid by members of the RCMP.
The lawsuit lists seven RCMP officers as defendants, along with the Attorney General of Canada, and alleges they conducted an “unlawful search” of Baptiste’s home the night of Boushie’s shooting.
It alleges the officers didn’t have a warrant when they surrounded and entered the home, at which point they informed the family of Boushie’s death.
The lawsuit claims Baptiste was inconsolable at the news and collapsed to the ground.
“After the passing of approximately five minutes, Debbie was still on the ground,” the statement of claim reads.
“One of the male search officers approached her, grabbed her by the wrist, and told Debbie to get herself together.”
The plaintiffs claim the RCMP “deliberately engaged in discrimination by subjecting three proud members of the Red Pheasant First Nation to ridicule, unlawful searches, and humiliating breath tests.”
The lawsuit against the RCMP members is calling for Baptiste to be paid $200,000 in general damages, $100,000 for pecuniary losses, $50,000 in special damages, and $200,000 in punitive damages.
It also seeks $100,000 in general damages for Jace Boushie, along with $100,000 in pecuniary losses, $50,000 in special damages and $200,000 in punitive damages.
“We expect that this lawsuit will force the RCMP to look deep within itself and examine the manner in which the RCMP interacts with the Indigenous citizens of Canada,” Chris Murphy, a Toronto-based lawyer representing the Boushie family said in a news release.
“There can be no true reconciliation until the RCMP, itself, acknowledges that the callous manner in which Debbie, Jace and William was due — at least in part — to the fact that they were proud members of the Red Pheasant First Nation.”
Boyblue Boushie is seeking the same damages as his brother.
None of the claims made in the lawsuit have been proven in a court of law.
In a statement to media, RCMP said “Our sympathies remain with the family and friends of Colten Boushie, who have suffered such a tragic loss.”
“We are fully cooperating with the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (CRCC). The CRCC is investigating the death of Mr. Boushie and the events that followed, including the next of kin notification, the search of the family residence, and the dissemination of media releases. The RCMP’s handling of an initial complaint filed by a family member is also under review by the CRCC,” the statement reads.
RCMP said they would have no further comment on the lawsuit, since it was before the courts.
The defendants have 30 days to respond to the statements of claim in court.