Monday 30 September 2019


One night, Edouard Maurice, an Alberta father who was at home alone with his daughter, was alerted by his barking dogs. He saw two people on his property rifling through his vehicles and retrieved his 22-calibre rifle. He opened his door, shouted for the two people to leave, and then he fired two warning shots to scare them off.

Maurice was later hauled before a judge for firing the warning shots at thieves on his property. Further, he is now being sued by one of the thieves who during that night on Maurice’s land outside of town of Okotoks, was hit by a ricocheting bullet and hospitalized.

In court documents filed in Calgary on September 6, 2019. Ryan Watson says injuries sustained to his right forearm in February 2018 caused “severe damages and disability” and is suing the farmer for $100,000.

By firing his rifle, he was in essence saying that he had a rifle in his home. He could have fired it into the ground or in the air to achieve the same purpose.

The civil suit was served to Edouard Maurice earlier this month. Edouard said he was “shocked” when he got it. The Maurice case caused outrage across Alberta because there have been too many instances of thieves creeping into farmer’s property at night to steal items from their vehicles.

When Edouard Maurice called police; he says they arrived some hours later (a timeline the RCMP (federal police) has refused to comment on with their guns drawn, saying there were reports that someone had sustained a gunshot wound. Edouard Maurice was arrested and charged with careless use of a firearm, pointing a firearm and aggravated assault. The charges are the correct ones that were laid against him.

That a man defending his home and child against robbers would be the one police led away in cuffs had later rubbed already raw nerves in rural Alberta, where people are on edge over what has felt like out-of-control crime.

While the charges were withdrawn against Maurice, in June 2018, the damage was done. What he told the National Post in an exclusive interview last year was a decision made in a “split second of fear” that upended their lives, and made the Maurices symbols for rural residents across the Prairies. 

 While at  court appearances, frustrated residents rallied around Maurice as symbols of all that was wrong with the justice system.

In the statement of claim, Watson, who faced several criminal charges related to that night, says he required surgery to put a metal plate in his arm and that he now suffers post-traumatic stress disorder and other emotional and physical discomfort. Watson was sentenced to 45 days in jail in February 2019, but walked free from the court house because of time served.

In the civil suit, Watson’s lawyer argued that Maurice was negligent, having fired a gun without looking carefully where he was aiming his rifle and without “reasonable consideration” for Watson being nearby and that there was no “reasonable threat” of imminent harm when he fired the rifle and also failing to exercise other options before firing the gun, among other allegations.

These in my opinion are reasonable allegations especially since the farmer was not in fear of his life. 

By now there are people who will say that Watson deserved what injuries he got that night but that is wrong.  Admittedly, being in that farm for the purpose of stealing items from the farmer’s vehicle, Watson deserves no sympathy at all. However, being at the farm for a criminal purpose will no doubt have some effect on part of the impact of the claim being reduced.

Ironically, the statement that crime doesn’t pay is partially wrong. How much Watson is awarded by the judge hearing the civil case against the farmer will determine how much his crime will actually pay him. 

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