Colten Boushie's family appeared devastated when they left the courthouse Friday after they learned the jury had acquitted Gerald Stanley in the 22-year-old's 2016 shooting death.
Debbie Baptiste, Boushie's mother, was wailing and sobbing uncontrollably as she was helped down the steps of the Court of Queens Bench in Battleford after the decision came down.
Stanley was charged with second-degree murder for the incident that took place on Stanley’s Biggar-area farmyard in August 2016. After deliberating for around 13 hours that started Thursday afternoon, the jury, which was instructed to consider the charge of second-degree murder or manslaughter, came to the verdict of not guilty on Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Boushie’s cousin Jade Tootoosis held back tears as she spoke to the media outside the courthouse.
“There was no justice served here today,” she said. “We hoped for justice for Colten. However, we did not see it. We did not feel it throughout this entire process.
“We will fight for an appeal and answers to all the racism that my family has experienced - from the day that Colten was shot until the jury delivered the verdict of not guilty," Tootoosis said, shaking as she spoke.
Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Vice-Chief Kim Jonathan called for an inquiry.
“To all of those who are broken today, please remain peaceful,” she said. “We need to call on peace and calm right now... We need to come together – First Nations and non-First Nations - and make sure this doesn’t happen anymore.
“We felt unsafe then and we’re still unsafe,” Jonathan said while alluding to Indigenous peoples tragic history in Canada.
When the verdict was read, Stanley was ushered quickly from the side exit of the courthouse to a vehicle waiting outside.
Stanley’s lawyer Scott Spencer did not appear after the verdict to speak to media.
Crown prosecutor William Burge said his team presented all the evidence.
"We didn't leave anything out that would have made a difference. There is nothing more that could be done," he told media outside the courthouse.
FSIN, BATC response
Later Friday night, the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FISN) and Battlefords Agency Tribal Chiefs (BATC) held a press conference in which the Boushie family and FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron spoke to their anger and frustration with the verdict.
“What would you do?” said Cameron. “What would you expect if that was your child? Someone would have to pay the consequences for their actions.”
He said in Indigenous culture, people trust karma to find justice: “What you do wrong to others will come back to you. Gerald Stanley has not got away with this yet.”
Cameron criticised the Crown prosecutor selected for the case, as well as the jury selection process, which didn't appear to include any Indigenous representation.
“To the family, we will pray for healing,” Cameron said, adding it will be up to the family to decide whether they want to take further action to appeal the case or seek an inquiry.
“Whatever the family decides to do, that’s what we are going to do,” he said. “Whatever the people of our treaty land decide to do, that’s what we are going to do... We’re going to make some serious positive change.”
Cameron said he spoke to Federal Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould who said she would meet with the Boushie family to discuss the issue.
The tribal chairman of the BATC, Chief Daniel Starchief of Mosquito Grizzly Bear Head Lean Man First Nations, said he was “lost for words” regarding the outcome.
“Justice wasn’t served today. Justice crumbled today," he said.
Premier Scott Moe weighed in on the matter, sending out a message on social media urging "everyone to be measured in their reaction."
"Let us continue to demonstrate consideration, patience, and understanding for one another as we move forward together in reconciliation."
On Twitter: @battlefordsnow
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