As hundreds rally outside courthouse, man pleads not guilty to killing First Nations man
Jason Warick, Postmedia Network
First posted: Thursday, August 18, 2016 02:42 PM EDT | Updated: Thursday, August 18, 2016 08:37 PM EDT
NORTH BATTLEFORD — Gerald Stanley, the man accused of second-degree murder in the farmyard shooting death of 22-year-old Colten Boushie, will remain in custody until at least today after a judge reserved his decision in a bail hearing.
Following a hearing Thursday afternoon that lasted roughly two hours in North Battleford Queen's Bench Court — Stanley's second court appearance of the day — Judge Bruce Bauer reserved his decision for at least 24 hours.
Emotions were high in the courtroom, as several members of Boushie's family cried loudly and several others were helped out of the courtroom by supporters. Stanley showed almost no visible emotion, only turning his head several times to raise his eyebrows and make eye contact with his lawyer.
Stanley, 54, was charged after Boushie was fatally shot on his property on Aug. 9.
The large courtroom was filled to capacity with more than 100 people, while at least the same number remained outside. Flag- and photo-waving supporters of Boushie had gathered throughout the day, chanting "Justice for Colten" outside the provincial courthouse after Stanley pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder.
The crowd, which peacefully conducted a silent rally prior to Stanley's first court appearance of the day, started to chant as family and supporters of both the victim and the accused emerged following the morning appearance. Stanley entered the prisoner's box wearing a long-sleeved grey collared shirt and dark pants. The grey-haired main of average build was still during the three-minute appearance. His only word — "Morning" — was in reply to Judge Bruce Bauer.
A standard publication ban applies to any details heard in court at the afternoon bail hearing, during which several potential witnesses were asked to leave the room. The hearing had barely started when it was adjourned for five minutes; drumming from supporters outside made it too difficult for the stenographer to hear.
The rally for Boushie included drummers, sweetgrass and prayers. Many of the signs held by his supporters had the words 'Justice for Colten' or '#IndigenousLivesMatter.' The crowd appeared to be approximately half indigenous and half non-indigenous.
Members of Stanley's family were escorted without incident to and from their vehicle by several RCMP members throughout the day.
Defence lawyer Scott Spencer released a statement on Thursday, expressing on behalf of the Stanley family condolences to Boushie's family and calling his death "a tragedy."
"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. 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 statement read.
"Rather, justice, for both Colten and Gerry, requires that the facts of this matter be presented and tested in the appropriate judicial forum. We hope that all will reserve judgement until those facts are established."
Stanley is scheduled to return to court on Sept. 13 to determine a date for a preliminary hearing.
"Somebody took him. So sudden, so sudden. Now I have to share these stories with my nephew, with my sons, about Coco," said Colten's brother, William Boushie. "I have to share these stories with them because they won't get to grow up and cherish this life with him. I'm grieving right now.
"My brother was a man of his community ... He served his people right and it makes me happy to see everybody here today because Coco would want that."
"He was a guy who supported his community," added William Boushie, saying that it hurts him to know "that I had to lay my brother that helped me, that I had to lay my brother to rest."
Sheldon Wuttunee, former chief of the Red Pheasant Cree Nation, said the rallies developed "around support for the family.
"The family is certainly moving through a grieving process and experiencing all types of emotions, as anybody does when they lose a loved one. Of course, it was sudden and tragic," he said.
According to Boushie’s uncle, Alvin Baptiste, Boushie and four friends had been swimming and drinking at a lake on Aug. 9 and pulled onto Stanley’s property after they experienced car trouble on their way home to the Red Pheasant First Nation. Following a heated argument, Boushie was shot while still in the car.
RCMP said the people in the car with Boushie were taken into custody as part of a related theft investigation, but no charges were laid.
The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations has publicly criticized the RCMP for the way it has presented the shooting and has called the shooting a “crime based on race.”
Boushie’s death has exposed growing tensions between some First Nations, rural residents and the RCMP and has sparked so many racist comments online that Premier Brad Wall took to social media this week to condemn them and call on people to rise above intolerance.
"I want to see a difference made. I want people to come together and just support each other instead of fighting," said Edward Soonias, a close friend of Boushie's.
"It doesn't matter what race. We all should be together as a community. We shouldn't be fighting between each other."
The National Farmers Union's Saskatchewan youth adviser, Rachelle Ternier, who was in North Battleford for Stanley's appearance, condemned "all the racist remarks for anyone," specifically those posted on the Facebook page of a group calling itself 'Saskatchewan Farmers.'
“Those voices do not speak for all Saskatchewan farmers. There are many of us that want to be there for the family in this time of mourning and loss, and really acknowledge how incredibly unacceptable all these racist comments have been," Ternier said.
“It’s tragic to lose a loved one. There’s going to be a long time of mourning as this came as such a sudden incident."
Similar rallies were taking place in Saskatoon, with another scheduled for Regina.
Organizer Jackie Crowe said during a moment of silence in Saskatoon that her thoughts were with the family of the 22-year-old shooting victim.
"I was thinking of Colten's mom," Crowe said. "I was thinking about her and her pain and what she must be going through."
Crowe said her thoughts were with all of those affected in the aftermath of the shooting, telling the crowd that she has not stopped crying since Boushie's death. She said remarks made by Colten's grandmother, Verna Denny, about how the young man helped her around the house left her heartbroken, noting she too has a grandson who would help her.
"My heart has been with this family since the beginning. My heart is also with the survivors, I can't imagine what they're going through," Crowe said.
"I imagine that they can't sleep ... I imagine they must be waking up with nightmares and that's a heartbreaking thing."
Crowe said she has written to government leaders, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier Brad Wall, calling on them and police forces to "address and respond to the serious and deadly force of racism, verbal or otherwise towards our people."
"There needs to be changes to our laws that does not allow racist words or actions to exist in this country," the letter reads, calling for those who make racist comments to be held accountable.
— With StarPhoenix and Leader-Post files
Colten Boushie's mother Debbie Boushie(L) and Christine Dene speak to the media outside of North Battleford Provincial Court House where alleged shooter Gerald Stanley is making a court appearance August 18, 2016. (GordWaldner/Saskatoon StarPhoenix)
As hundreds rally outside courthouse, man pleads not guilty to killing First Nat