A case at the centre of a national outcry about allegations of racism in the justice system is now under review by the civilian complaints commission for the RCMP.
The Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP (CRCC) has started a “complaint and public interest investigation” around the conduct of officers following Colten Boushie’s death.
Boushie was shot and killed on a Biggar area farm on August 9, 2016. A jury found Gerald Stanley not guilty of murder in his death.
Early in the investigation, the RCMP faced criticism from First Nations leaders and family members about the way officers handled the case. The first RCMP news release about the fatal shooting referred to people in the SUV being taken into custody as part of a theft investigation, which the police force later apologized for.
There were also accusations of mistreatment by officers who told Boushie’s mother about his death and searched her property.
The CRCC will look into allegations of discrimination based on race and whether RCMP officers conducted a reasonable investigation and followed proper procedures.
“In the course of our review and our ongoing monitoring of events related to this tragic incident, it has become apparent that additional matters related to the conduct of RCMP members involved need to be examined. As such, I am satisfied that it is in the public interest to launch an independent investigation into this matter,” said Guy Bujold, the acting chairperson of the CRCC.
Boushie’s uncle Alvin Baptiste filed an initial complaint to RCMP on Dec. 16, 2016. An internal investigation cleared officers of any wrongdoing.
A month before the Stanley trial on Jan. 2, 2018, Baptiste exercised his right to have the complaint referred to the civilian review commission.
The commission operates independently from the RCMP and has jurisdiction to investigate complaints about the police force. It has the authority to make recommendations to address any issues found in regards to RCMP conduct, policies or procedures.
The RCMP issued a statement Tuesday indicating it welcomed the investigation and will cooperate fully with it.