A white farmer accused of shooting and killing an Indigenous man has been found not guilty of second degree murder.
A Saskatchewan jury, which began deliberations on Thursday afternoon, returned with their verdict on Friday evening, finding 56-year-old Gerald Stanley not guilty in the 2016 death of 22-year-old Colten Boushie.
Boushie and his four friends from the Red Pheasant Cree Nation drove onto Stanley’s farm after getting a flat tire, and were confronted by him and his son Sheldon, who believed they were trying to steal an ATV.
Stanley testified on Monday that his gun went off as a result of a hangfire. He said he had fired warning shots earlier, and believed his gun was empty when he was reaching into the vehicle Boushie was in to take the keys out of the ignition.
"It's a tragedy, but it's not criminal. You must acquit," Stanley’s lawyer Scott Spencer told the jury.
The Crown had argued that Stanley fired the gun intentionally.
When the verdict was announced, Boushie’s mother stood up and screamed, as other family members held her back, the Saskatchewan StarPhoenix reported.
“You’re a murderer, you’re a murderer,” yelled one woman.
“You’re cruel. You guys don’t even care about First Nations,” another woman yelled through tears.
The case has shed light on racial tensions in the province between Indigenous people and rural landowners, while social media comments about the case have exposed deeply held prejudices from some in the region.