The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) is criticizing the RCMP’s handling of information in the shooting death of Colten Boushie.
Boushie, 22, was shot and killed on a farmyard near Cando, Sask. on Tuesday. 54-year-old Gerald Stanley is charged with second-degree murder.
In a media release, FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron expressed disappointment with the first information RCMP sent out Wednesday about the incident.
“We are extremely disappointed in the way the RCMP have presented the shooting incident near Biggar, Saskatchewan, on August 9, 2016. The news release the RCMP issued the following day provided just enough prejudicial information for the average reader to draw their own conclusions that the shooting was somehow justified. The messaging in an RCMP news release should not fuel racial tensions,” he said.
The RCMP release referred to by Cameron was issued just before 1 p.m. on Wednesday. It read as follows:
“Biggar Detachment and RCMP Major Crime Unit North are currently investigating an incident that occurred yesterday at approximately 5:30 p.m. in the RM of Glenside (in the Biggar Detachment area). Initial investigation has revealed five individuals entered onto private property by vehicle in the rural area and were confronted by property owners who were outside and witnessed their arrival.
The occupants of the vehicle were not known to the property owners. A verbal exchange occurred in an attempt to get the vehicle to leave the yard and ultimately a firearm was discharged, striking an occupant in the vehicle. Emergency services were contacted and upon arrival, one adult male (who arrived in the vehicle) was suffering from an apparent gunshot wound and was declared deceased at the scene. An autopsy will be conducted later this week to confirm the deceased’s identity.
One adult male associated to the property was arrested by police at the scene without incident. Three occupants from the vehicle, including two females (one being a youth) and one adult male were taken into custody as part of a related theft investigation. Another adult male is being sought; his identity is still being confirmed at this time.
The investigation into the events leading up to the arrival of the vehicle to the yard, the circumstances involving the death, and the actions following remain under investigation. No charges have been laid at this time.
We are in the early stages of this complex investigation. Further details will be released when information becomes available.”
Subsequent releases from RCMP detailed the charge against Stanley and identified Boushie as the person who was killed. At time of writing, the most recent media release from RCMP on the matter was issued at 3:30 p.m. Thursday. That release stated that only Stanley remained in custody, with three occupants of the vehicle released. That last release also noted that police were still considering charges “with respect to some property related offences pending further investigation,”
Chief Clint Wuttunee of the Red Pheasant First Nation was critical of media coverage of the shooting. “The media’s initial portrayal of the event made the incident sound like a crime was about to be committed by the passengers in the car. The media based their reports on the RCMP’s news release,” he said.
The FSIN is demanding a review of the RCMP’s communications policies.
RCMP responds to FSIN
RCMP Superintendent Rob Cameron said at a news conference Friday evening they take the criticisms from the FSIN seriously.
“It is deeply concerning to us as the provincial police service, to hear one of our media releases categorized as bias(ed) and not in line with the relationship we have with the FSIN and all of the communities we serve.”
Cameron said they hear the FSIN’s concerns and want to work with them to address those concerns.
Cameron also encouraged people to watch what they post on social media with regarding to the homicide investigation.
“There have been comments made on social media that are both concerning and could be criminal in nature.”
Cameron declined to specify when asked about specific comments, instead referring to the criminal code which criminalizes advocating for violence against an identifiable group.