B.C. court grants a conditional sentence to woman in standoff with police
PRINCE GEORGE, B.C. — A woman shot by police three times in an armed standoff in eastern British Columbia has been given a conditional sentence because the Crown says she was also a victim.
A Prince George Court heard that 24-year-old Shanna Buehler and her father, John, holed up in a trapper’s cabin near Valemount, B.C., for 10 days in September 2014, refusing to come out for police.
RCMP shot and killed John Buehler when he turned his rifle on the officers.
The B.C. Supreme Court heard on Monday that the man was violent and abusive to the young woman throughout her life and dragged her into the difficult and tragic situation.
Crown counsel Geoffery McDonald told the court that the woman’s father beat her with a belt and forced her to hold liquid soap in her mouth.
“In one instance, he apparently beat a pet to death with a hoe,” McDonald said.
During the time they lived on a rented property in Valemount, John Buehler allowed her to leave the home just six times and only under careful supervision. She was denied access to newspapers, television and any outside contact, McDonald said.
“Her only viewpoint of the world was the one given to her by her father,” he said. “It’s not surprising then that she came to believe that her father really was a prophet and that Armageddon was near and she was willing to obey his orders.”
On Sept. 17, 2014, the Buehlers drove all-terrain vehicles about two kilometres away from a cabin they had been holed up in and an RCMP emergency response team moved in to prevent them from returning to the property.
When police confronted the pair, the court heard, John Buehler was shot, while his daughter retreated and placed her .22-calibre rifle next to a log not far from her.
Officers found her crouched behind the log and she initially complied with police orders to stand up, but then grabbed the rifle and was shot three times by police, the court heard.
Two of the gunshot wounds were superficial but one entered her chest, striking her lung and her liver. She remained in hospital for six weeks and continues to suffer the effects as well as some post-traumatic stress, the court heard.
After her release, she turned herself into police and was released on a recognizance which she has obeyed ever since. She pleaded guilty to three charges in connection to the standoff.
Although Buehler participated in a lengthy armed standoff with police, “in many ways she is a victim of John Buehler as well,” McDonald told the judge.
“We would not expect someone who had been abused and controlled and manipulated from early childhood to be able to exercise an independent mind and step clear,” he added.
Justice Kenneth Ball accepted a joint submission from Crown and defence lawyers, and sentenced Buehler to 18 months probation. If she lives up to the terms and conditions, she will avoid having a criminal record.
“This was obviously a very difficult and tragic incident brought about by what appears to have been the bizarre beliefs of John Buehler who unfortunately dragged his daughter along for the ride,” Ball said.
“She was, as counsel had told me, abused and certainly under his control and now that this incident is over, her circumstances have clearly changed and I expect we’re seeing her true character come forward.”
Buehler, who now lives in Alberta, remained quiet throughout the hearing, occasionally wiping away a tear as her mother looked on from the gallery.
- Mark Nielsen, Prince George Citizen
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