An angry assault victim confronted his attacker outside a Red Deer courtroom Thursday morning.
Linden Joseph Lee Buffalo had just been sentenced to 60 days in prison for aggravated assault when Travis Peterson allegedly threatened him in front of a number of shocked witnesses and the chief Crown prosecutor who was handling the case.
Friends and family allege Peterson threatened to kill Buffalo if he came near Peterson’s two-year-old grandson, whose parents are his daughter, Shalyn Peterson, and Buffalo.
Buffalo was free to leave court after sentencing because he had already served enough time in pretrial custody.
Fuming family members said they were going to file a complaint about Peterson with police.
Chief Crown prosecutor Dominique Mathurin confirmed a threat was made, but said Peterson was emotional, as often happens with victims of crime who hoped for longer sentences.
“He just wanted the accused to have a little more time in custody and that didn’t happen.”
Buffalo’s case has been contentious from the beginning. His family members were angry he was originally charged with attempted murder.
That was changed to the lesser offence of aggravated assault following a preliminary hearing.
But Buffalo’s family believes he should not have been charged at all because it was Peterson who attacked first, punching Buffalo in the face as he lay in bed.
Peterson went to Shalyn and Buffalo’s home after receiving a panicked call from his daughter.
She had locked herself in a bathroom after getting into a heated argument with Buffalo following a night of drinking.
Peterson punched Buffalo in the face once. When Peterson turned to leave, Buffalo got up and stabbed him in the hip and neck.
The fight spilled out into the hallway and kitchen, where Peterson’s hand was nicked as he tried to wrestle the knife away.
Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Marilyn Slawinsky ruled the first two wounds were in self-defence, but the later hand wound, which happened as Peterson was trying to get away, constituted aggravated assault.
Buffalo was also fined $500 for mischief for smashing his girlfriend’s phone when she tried to call for help during their argument.
Slawinsky addressed Peterson and Buffalo’s family during sentencing.
While aggravated assault often draws much longer sentences, she agreed with the Crown prosecutor and defence, which had made a joint sentencing submission, that there were “unique” circumstances in the case.
The incident will have a lasting impact on the entire family, she said.
“The future will always be coloured by memories of this terrible event.”
Buffalo was remorseful and was a good person when he was not drinking, which was his “Achilles heel,” she said.
In time, she hoped Peterson could forgive Buffalo and all involved could “rise above this.”
Buffalo’s family said they plan to appeal the sentence.
Kim Beaudin, national vice-chief of the Ottawa-based Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, flew in to support the family and draw attention to what they see as the unequal treatment of Indigenous people in the justice system.
Beaudin also heard Peterson’s alleged threat and said he filed a complaint with police.
Beaudin believes Buffalo should never have been charged in this case.
“It’s a huge overreach,” said Beaudin.
“This happens to Indigenous people all the time.”
Buffalo was defending himself in his own home from someone he thought was an intruder, and his actions should have been considered self-defence.