NORTH BATTLEFORD, Sask. – A judge has reserved decision on whether a Saskatchewan farmer accused of fatally shooting a First Nations man should be granted bail.
Gerald Stanley is charged with second-degree murder in the death of 22-year-old Colten Boushie of the Red Pheasant First Nation.
Stanley’s bail hearing in North Battleford on Thursday ended with the judge saying he would release a written decision on Friday or sometime next week. All evidence presented at the hearing is subject to a publication ban.
Earlier in the day, Stanley, 54, appeared in provincial court where he pleaded not guilty, while hundreds of people holding up signs and chanting “Justice for Colten” rallied peacefully outside.
Others came to quietly support Stanley, saying he is innocent until proven guilty.
Boushie was killed Aug. 9 after the vehicle he was in drove onto a farm in the rural municipality of Glenside, west of Saskatoon.
A cousin, who was in the car along with several others, said they were heading home to the Red Pheasant reserve after an afternoon of swimming when they got a flat tire and were looking for help.
Stanley’s relatives issued a statement through his lawyer Thursday expressing condolences to the Boushie family, saying they would not comment publicly for now.
“While the circumstances of the incident are not as simple as some media reports have portrayed, the Stanley family will reserve comment until completion of the criminal process,” the statement said.
“Although the rampant speculation and misinformation is frustrating, it is not the place for, or reasonable to expect, the Stanley family to correct the public record.”
The family concluded that it hopes everyone will reserve judgment until the facts of the matter are established.
Racial tensions flared after Boushie was killed.
First Nations leaders said the first RCMP news release about the shooting was biased. It said that people in the car had been taken into custody as part of a theft investigation. They were released without charges.
Chief Bobby Cameron of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations said the RCMP statement “provided just enough prejudicial information” for people to draw the conclusion that the shooting was somehow justified.
RCMP Supt. Rob Cameron said police handled the investigation fairly and competently.
Outside court, William Boushie said his brother’s killing “took the light from my eyes.”
“He went to have a good time at the lake. He promised me he was going to come home. Instead he comes home in a casket. Racism plays a part in this,” he said.
“I hope I can find forgiveness in my heart in the long run but, right now, I’m grieving. I’m hurt … I’ll never get him back.”
Another man, who didn’t want to be identified, said there are two sides to every story and no one has yet heard Stanley’s version of what happened.
“Not once through this whole incident have you ever heard, from the press, from you people, innocent until proven guilty. Not once, and that’s Canadian law,” said the man, as he leaned against a pickup truck in a parking lot across the street from the courthouse.
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall took to Facebook on the weekend to condemn what he called “racist and hate-filled” comments after the shooting.
Some comments on social media sites have been anti-First Nation, while others have supported vigilante justice against the suspect.
One widely circulated screen grab from a Saskatchewan farmers group on Facebook said: “His only mistake was leaving three witnesses.” That group has since been closed.