REGINA — The Crown says it won’t appeal the acquittal of a Saskatchewan farmer who was accused of fatally shooting a young Indigenous man in the head.
Last month, a jury found Gerald Stanley not guilty of second-degree murder in the death of Colten Boushie, who was 22 and from Red Pheasant First Nation.
The Crown says a verdict can’t be appealed because people don’t agree with it or because there may be questions about the investigation.
“The Crown can only appeal legal errors in the course of the trial,” senior prosecutor Anthony Gerein said Wednesday at a news conference.
The trial heard that Boushie was one of five young people who drove an SUV into Stanley’s farmyard near Biggar, Sask., in August 2016. Those in the SUV testified they were looking for help for a flat tire while Stanley told the trial he thought the youths were trying to steal an all-terrain vehicle.
Stanley testified he fired warning shots to scare them away and the gun accidentally went off again when he reached for the keys in the SUV’s ignition.
The case was filled with racial tension from the beginning and the verdict was met with outrage from Boushie’s relatives and their supporters.
Family members met with federal ministers along with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to ask for changes to the justice system and to how juries are selected to better reflect Indigenous people.
Protests were also held around Canada to voice displeasure with the outcome of the case.
“I know there is much sadness about the decision not to appeal, but there can be no appeal because the law does not allow it,” Gerein said.
He said the Crown did not consult with the Boushie family about the legal decision. But Gerein spoke to lawyers on both sides and they informed their clients, he said.
Boushie’s cousin, Jade Tootoosis, has said that the family felt excluded and ignored by the justice system following the shooting.
“I urge no one to be discouraged or distrust the system. We are all in this together and must be united against crime and in the search for justice,” Gerein said.
“Complainants need to come forward when they have been wronged. Witnesses need to come to court and testify, sharing the truth. Good men and women will convict where they are sure it is right.”
On Tuesday, the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission launched a review into the RCMP’s investigation into the shooting.