BATTLEFORD, Sask. — A friend of an Indigenous man shot during an altercation on a Saskatchewan farm broke down in tears in court when forced to examine a photo of Colten Boushie’s body.
“How come you have to have that body laying in front of that thing like that?” said an emotional Eric Meechance Wednesday when asked to look at a photo of the barrel of a .22 calibre rifle that was near Boushie’s body.
Saskatchewan Chief Justice Martel Popescul asked Meechance if he needed a break. Twenty minutes later he was dismissed as a witness.
Gerald Stanley, 56, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in the August 2016 shooting death of Boushie. The 22-year-old, who was from the Red Pheasant First Nation, died from a single gunshot wound to the back of his head.
Meechance, 22, testified that he, Boushie, Cassidy Cross, Kiora Wuttunee and Belinda Jackson had been drinking throughout the day and had been swimming in the South Saskatchewan River. He said they heard a leak in one of the tires when the SUV crossed a culvert.
He said they continued driving and stopped at one farm where Cross broke the stock of .22 calibre rifle that was in the vehicle trying to smash the window of a truck. They later drove on to the Stanley farm near Biggar, Sask., and were on an all-terrain vehicle but took off when someone started yelling at them, he said.
When Cross crashed into another vehicle in the yard, Meechance said they both got out of the SUV and started running.
“Within seconds … I heard two shots and I swear that they were toward me because I could hear a whistling,” Meechance told court. “I heard two shots whistle by me.”
Meechance said he heard the third shot when he was crossing the main road near the farm.
“Did you see what happened with that third gunshot?” asked Crown prosecutor Bill Burge.
“No,” Meechance said. “You get shot at, you hear a third gunshot, you’re not going to turn around and start looking.”
Defence lawyer Scott Spencer asked him why the group didn’t tell police they had a gun in their vehicle, suggesting that was a “pretty serious piece of information that the police need.”
“I had a gun ban,” Meechance said.
Spencer suggested Meechance wasn’t upfront when he said they went to the Stanley farm because they needed help with a flat tire. Meechance and others were “motivated by theft” and didn’t tell the Boushie family the whole story, he suggested.
“Don’t you think they deserved to know that you were out checking vehicles? That you had a gun in there, you were shooting a gun out of the vehicle,” asked Spencer. ”Didn’t you think the family deserved to know the truth?”
“It’s not like we went there in a stolen vehicle. Not like we went there and whipped out a gun or nothing,” Meechance said.
Sheldon Stanley told court his father looked like he was going to be sick after the shooting.
He said an SUV drove into the family’s farmyard. Shortly afterwards, he said he and his father heard an all-terrain vehicle start and thought it was being stolen. The pair ran toward the SUV as it tried to leave the farm and Sheldon Stanley went in the house to get his truck keys.
He said he heard two gunshots while he was inside and a third when he came back out.
“I turned as my father walked behind the back of the grey vehicle towards me with a gun in one hand and a magazine in the other. He turned and looked at me and looked like he was going to be sick,” Sheldon Stanley, 28, told court. “He said ‘I don’t know what happened. It just went off. I just wanted to scare them.’
“It just went off.”
After Boushie was shot, Sheldon Stanley said the two women in the back seat of the SUV were “obviously upset and yelling at us.” He said they pulled Boushie’s body out of the car and, along with him, a gun that was missing a stock.
“It was laying between his legs and, as they pulled him, it came out with him.”
He said the two young women also attacked his mother while they waited for police.
“They had her on the ground and they were hitting her,” he said, adding he told them to get back in their vehicle. “They did stop and got back in their vehicle.”
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Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press