The Canadian Press
BATTLEFORD, Sask. – There are calls for calm as a Saskatchewan jury continues deliberating the fate of a farmer charged in the fatal shooting of a young Indigenous man.
Gerald Stanley, 56, is charged with second-degree murder in the death of 22-year-old Colten Boushie from the Red Pheasant First Nation in August 2016.
Court has heard that Boushie was shot in the head with a handgun while he was sitting in the driver’s seat of an SUV that had been driven onto Stanley’s farm near Biggar, Sask.
“This case has cracked open the racial undercurrent in Saskatchewan with the potential to further drive a wedge of mistrust between communities,” Saskatoon Tribal Council Chief Mark Arcand and Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark said in a joint statement.
“We cannot build our future with hateful dialogue and divisiveness. As we await the verdict and wonder what impact this could have on our province, and more importantly, our relations with each other, we must continue to work with each other in a good way, in a respectful way.”
The jury spent Friday morning listening to testimony from Stanley and his son.
Boushie’s uncle, Alvin Baptiste, said now it’s just a waiting game.
“I’m hoping the jury will do the right thing,” he said. “Right now, it’s pretty hard to predict where it’s going to go. They might decide second (degree murder), manslaughter, acquittal, a hung jury – so that’s where I’m at.”
The family is anxious for the case to wrap up, he added.
“It’s been hanging over my family’s head for quite a while. You know it’s time that my family starts to heal and move on.”
The trial has heard that the SUV that Boushie and four others were in that day had a flat tire. The driver testified the group had been drinking and tried to break into a truck on a neighbouring farm, but went to the Stanley property in search of help with the tire.
Defence lawyer Scott Spencer has argued Boushie died as a result of a freak accident when the gun misfired and Stanley never intended to hurt anyone. Crown prosecutor Bill Burge disputed that Stanley believed the firearm was empty and that the gun could have had a misfire, or hang fire.
The case has exposed an ugly side in rural Saskatchewan – landowners who blame Indigenous people for high rates of property crime and First Nations who bear the brunt of that racism and hate.
With the trial coming to an end the RCMP issued a statement reminding all people and parties to “conduct themselves in a peaceful and civil manner regardless of the outcome.”
RCMP also warned people will be held responsible for what they say or post online and police will investigate any complaints of suspected criminal behaviour.