Content warning: anti-Indigenous violence and racism
Gerald Stanley, a white Saskatchewan farmer on trial for shooting and killing 22-year-old Colten Boushie, was acquitted of second-degree murder charges on Friday evening.
Boushie was a young Indigenous man from Red Pheasant First Nation, who was killed by Stanley when he stopped at his farm to ask for help with a flat tire. At the time of his death, Boushie was accompanied by four friends.
Stanley’s lawyer claimed the shooting was a “freak accident,” which resulted in the gun going off in his hands.
The ‘not guilty’ verdict was met with grief-stricken reactions by Boushie’s family and supporters. Shouts of, “Murderer!” followed Stanley through the courtroom as he was ushered out by law enforcement officers.
“How First Nations are treated in the justice system is not right,” said Boushie’s uncle Alvin Baptiste, speaking to the Toronto Star. “A white jury came out with a verdict of not guilty [for] Gerald Stanley, who shot and killed my nephew. This is how they treat us First Nations people. It is not right. Something has to be done about this.”
“I ask you to try and understand the nearly bottomless disappointment [of the family],” said Chris Murphy, lawyer to the Boushie family. “There is a darkness that exists in this country […] I believe we are going to have feel our way out of it.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister of Justice Jody Wilson-Raybould both tweeted their sympathies as well, but made no comment with regards to the steps they would be taking to secure justice for Boushie’s family.
The family has expressed the intent to potentially appeal the decision. Jade Tootoosis, Boushie’s cousin, said in a press conference after the verdict, “We will fight for an appeal. We will fight for an appeal and answers to all of the racism that my family has experienced from the day that Colten was shot until the jury delivered the verdict of not guilty. We will not stop our pursuit for justice.”