A key piece of evidence in the fatal shooting of a First Nations man on a Saskatchewan farm has been compromised, according to a lawyer representing the dead man’s family.
Chris Murphy represents the family of Colten Boushie, who was killed Aug. 9 after the SUV he was riding in with four other people drove onto the rural property west of Saskatoon.
Murphy said the Ford Escape was in a towing company parking lot on Sept. 12 and then moved the next day to a salvage yard for auction.
“I notified the Crown and the RCMP on Monday, the 12th of September, that this vehicle was not in police custody and that police had to do whatever they could immediately to get that vehicle back,” Murphy said from Toronto.
“I was told by the RCMP that blood spatter analysis had not been performed on the vehicle, which is a very, very important piece of forensic evidence that could have been taken from this vehicle because it can determine many things.”
That could include the location of Boushie’s body when he was shot in the back of the head, whether Boushie was hunched over reaching for something or whether he was upright, or possibly the angle of the shot, he said.
RCMP did not respond to a request for comment.
Murphy said police have not told him if the SUV is back in their custody.
That means any evidence collected now could be tainted, he said.
“The first thing it means is that the RCMP were, best case scenario, negligent, because there’s no way that in a homicide investigation the piece of forensic evidence – this is probably the No. 1 piece of forensic evidence that will be in existence for this case – should be destroyed by the state.”
The man accused of shooting Boushie, farmer Gerald Stanley, could also argue that his right to a fair trial may be compromised because of how the SUV was handled.
Stanley, 54, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and is free on bail.
Boushie’s cousin, Eric Meechance, who was one of the others in the car, has said they were heading home to the Red Pheasant First Nation after an afternoon of swimming when they got a flat tire and were looking for help.
According to information RCMP used to obtain a search warrant of the farm, Gerald Stanley’s son, Sheldon, called police to report that five people drove onto his parent’s farmyard and were trying to steal vehicles.
The information says Boushie, 22, was shot in the head with a handgun.
Racial tensions flared after Boushie was killed.
Some comments on social media sites have been anti-First Nation, while others have supported vigilante justice against the suspect.
Premier Brad Wall condemned the comments, urged people not to jump to conclusions and to rise above intolerance.
Murphy, a criminal lawyer since 2004 and a former prosecutor with the federal Justice Department, said it’s the most important case in the area right now.
“And in such an important case, I just cannot fathom how this piece of evidence could just be released.”