An independent RCMP watchdog is launching an investigation into how police handled the investigation into Colten Boushie’s death after family members alleged they were mistreated during the process.
The Civilian Review and Complaints Commission (CRCC) – an agency of the federal government separate from the RCMP – will look at whether officers conducted a “reasonable investigation” into the 22-year-old Red Pheasant First Nation member’s death, whether officers’ conduct amounted to racial discrimination and whether their actions aligned with proper RCMP training and procedure.
The investigation will also look at whether RCMP training and policies are, in themselves, “reasonable.”
“In the course of our review and our ongoing monitoring of events related to this tragic incident, it has become apparent that additional matters related to the conduct of RCMP members involved need to be examined. As such, I am satisfied that it is in the public interest to launch an independent investigation into this matter,” said Guy Bujold, the CRCC’s acting chairperson, in a statement issued Tuesday.
Boushie was shot and killed on Aug. 9, 2016 on a farm outside Biggar, Sask. Gerald Stanley, the white farmer who held the gun that killed Boushie, was acquitted of all charges in February.
Boushie’s family has alleged the case was mishandled from day one, when RCMP officers first notified them of the 22-year-old’s death. Boushie’s mother has said that when RCMP came to notify her about her son’s death, officers were insensitive, started searching her home without permission and asked her if she’d been drinking.
Boushie’s uncle, Alvin Baptiste, launched a complaint with the RCMP on Dec. 16, 2016. An internal investigation cleared officers of any wrongdoing.
Baptiste took his complaint to the CRCC on Jan. 2, 2018.
Stanley’s not guilty verdict also sparked rallies across the country, with Boushie’s supporters calling for changes to the justice system.
The federal government has said it’s planning a “broad-based review” of the criminal justice system, including the jury selection process.
Critics have said Stanley’s defence team used its set of peremptory challenges to reject Indigenous people from the jury pool.
Peremptory challenges allow lawyers to strike out anyone from the jury selection process without giving a reason.
With files from The Canadian Press