Stanley pleads guilty to gun charge
Farmer was acquitted of Boushie murder
NORTH BATTLEFORD • The Saskatchewan farmer acquitted in the shooting death of a young Indigenous man two months ago was met by angry shouts of “murderer” when he arrived at court Monday to answer for six rifles and shotguns he had stored in his basement. Gerald Stanley’s acquittal in February after the fatal shooting of Colten Boushie, 22, sparked a debate over how the justice system treats Indigenous people, but inside the North Battleford provincial court, Monday’s guilty plea was narrowly focused on firearm regulations. Stanley pleaded guilty to one charge of unsafe storage of a firearm. The charges date back to Aug. 9, 2016, when Stanley shot Boushie. After the shooting, RCMP officers searched Stanley’s property and found the guns in the basement; none had trigger locks.
A second charge of the improper storage of a restricted firearm, a handgun, was withdrawn due to lack of evidence. The charges were not related to the Tokarev semiautomatic pistol used in the shooting of Boushie. Stanley was ordered to pay $3,900 and is prohibited from owning weapons for 10 years. He has also been ordered to forfeit the six firearms. Stanley’ lawyer, Scott Spencer, said the collection of long-barrel guns is not uncommon for a rural farmhouse but told court a weapons prohibition is fine with Stanley, saying: “Frankly, he wishes he had never owned a gun.” Spencer and prosecutor Chris Browne jointly submitted the sentence recommendation.
Judge Bruce Bauer agreed the sentence was within the range for a storage violation — even in the higher end of the typical range.
The incident remains a deeply acrimonious one. Members of Boushie’s family were in court for the appearance and greeted Stanley with profanity and shouts of “murderer” when he arrived. Some wore shirts stating “Justice for Colten.” Security at the courthouse was enhanced for the appearance. In February, a jury found Stanley not guilty of murder for Boushie’s death. Stanley did not deny causing the young man’s death, but told the jury the fatal shot was an accident. He said he grabbed his Tokarev pistol to fire warning shots in the air after Boushie and his friends trespassed on his land. He argued the fatal bullet discharged from the gun as a result of a hang fire — a rare phenomenon where there is a delay between when the trigger is pulled and when the gun goes off.