The Civilian Review and Complaints Commission of the RCMP found that officers investigating the Colten Boushie death did not protect crime scene evidence and showed discrimination towards his family.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police has accepted the report issued Saturday.
Boushie of the Red Pheasant First Nation was shot and killed in August of 2016 on Gerald Stanley’s Biggar-area farm. Stanley would be acquitted in February 2018 of murder.
The Commission found that officers informing the family of Colten’s death were insensitive. “After the RCMP members had just announced to Ms. Baptiste that her son was deceased, one member questioned her about whether she had been drinking. As the RCMP members were searching Ms. Baptiste’s home for reasons unknown to her, and Ms. Baptiste displayed distress at the news they had just given her, one member told her to “get it together.” One or more RCMP members smelled her breath,” noted the report.
“The RCMP members provided Ms. Baptiste with little information about what had happened to her son, but proceeded to question her and look in places in her home where no person could be hiding. Not only did the RCMP members’ actions show little regard or compassion for Ms. Baptiste’s distress and pain, they compounded her suffering by treating her as if she was lying.”
RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki agreed with the finding of discrimination by officers towards Debbie Baptiste. “It is undisputed that the manner in which the next of kin notification was communicated to the family was insensitive and demonstrated poor judgment,” wrote Lucki.
The reported said that “during the investigation, one RCMP member informed the Commission that Indigenous-related training is not mandatory for everyone, particularly if there are “no” Indigenous populations within the jurisdiction of a detachment. The Commission found this particularly noteworthy for the RCMP, as it is the national police force responsible for policing approximately 40% of the Indigenous population.”
The report also examined crime scene evidence collection and preservation. The Commission found that Mounties failed to protect a Ford Escape at the scene was a “significant error” in the investigation.
First responders knew that the weather would deteriorate in the short-term.
“Constable Heroux’s notes indicate that he was aware of the incoming weather and planned to “try to capture the scene in case poor weather sets in.” He told Commission investigators that it had not rained during his initial attendance at the scene, but it had rained prior to his arrival,” explained the report.
From August 8 to 11 approximately 44 millimeters of rain had fallen and that “it was very obvious it had washed away a lot of the red substance consistent with blood from the door panel and on the ground.”
“Mr. Boushie was sitting in the Ford Escape when he was shot, so the importance of preserving the vehicle was clear. The impact of the loss of the evidence contained in the Ford Escape on the outcome of the investigation can never be known, since there was never an opportunity to collect and use the evidence,” stated the report.
A statement from the RCMP does not take any responsibility or acknowledge its failings, conduct in the investigation or dealings with the Boushie family.
Saskatchewan RCMP said it was committed to implementing the recommendations of the report, indicating it had completed 16 of 17 recommendations which directly affects it.
Sask. RCMP stated that by April, it expects all of it employees to have completed cultural sensitivity training. The RCMP has previously said that systemic racism does exist within the force.