Alberta man who fired warning shot at suspected thief facing lawsuit

WATCH: It has hit an already raw nerve for most rural Albertans -- an Okotoks farmer is being sued by the intruder who tried to break into his home. As Jill Croteau reports, the family at the center of it all said the whole thing is hard to fathom.

A southern Alberta man who shot at suspected thieves on his rural property is being sued by one of the people.

A statement of claim says Ryan Watson entered Edouard Maurice’s property near Okotoks, south of Calgary, on Feb. 25, 2018.

It says that when he and an accomplice were discovered, Maurice fired a warning shot that struck Watson’s arm.

“Without warning, the defendant attempted to scare the said plaintiff by shooting a .22 calibre rifle in his direction, but negligently hit the plaintiff in the right forearm, causing severe damages and disability,” reads the statement.

Okotoks man charged in rural shooting to let a jury decide his fate

It says Watson required surgery, which included putting a metal plate in his arm, and that he has pain and discomfort in his shoulders, head, neck and back. He also suffers from severe fatigue, insomnia, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, the document says.

The suit alleges Maurice was negligent for firing a gun without consideration for others in the area and for failing to exhaust reasonable and less violent options, including calling police or shouting a warning.

Watson is seeking damages for pain and suffering and for loss of income.

Maurice and Watson’s lawyer did not return requests seeking comment.

Applause in courtroom as charges dropped against Okotoks property owner in rural shooting

The lawsuit has not been proven in court and no statement of defence has been filed.

Maurice’s wife, Jessica Maurice, said the lawsuit was “not a welcome surprise.”

“We thought it was over,” Jessica told Global News.

“We are in shock and disbelief. Quite frankly, it’s ridiculous to be sued by the criminal committing a crime against you.”

RCMP charged Maurice with aggravated assault and weapons offences after the shooting, prompting hundreds of supporters to protest outside court. The Crown stayed the charges against him a few months later, citing a low probability of getting a conviction.

Jessica said the couple is now trying to focus on getting the right lawyer.

“The trauma of the experience didn’t end with the court case and his charges being dropped. This is bringing all that up again,” she said.

“When is enough enough?”

Watch below: There was a strong show of support for Edouard Maurice outside of Okotoks Provincial Court as he appeared in court in March 2018 

Watson was also charged in the case and pleaded guilty in February to mischief and breaching probation. He was sentenced to 45 days jail but was released due to time he had spent in custody before trial.

Rural crime on the Prairies has been in the spotlight since Saskatchewan farmer Gerald Stanley shot and killed Colten Boushie, a 22-year-old Indigenous man, in 2016. A jury acquitted Stanley of second-degree murder after he testified his gun went off accidentally when he was trying to scare off some young people who drove onto his property.

Gerald Stanley found not guilty of murder of Colten Boushie

Alberta’s Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer is in the middle of a tour of the province talking to Albertans about rural crime.

— With files from Global News

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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