Complaint filed against Saskatoon police accuses officers of conducting a 'Starlight Tour'
A complaint filed against the Saskatoon Police Service is being reviewed by the province’s police watch dog after a local marathon runner and coach said officers detained him then dropped him off south of Saskatoon.
Ken Thomas said he’s having a difficult time describing his feelings after the alleged incident Saturday night but said his humanity was taken away by police.
“My trust in the justice system is really shaken right now,” Thomas said.
Thomas said he was on a date with his girlfriend – they went to a concert then to Stan’s Place for drinks. He said he was outside for a cigarette when police in a black SUV approached him.
“They said, ‘hey, you fit the description of a person who was digging in cars,’” he said.
Thomas said he was detained but doesn’t believe handcuffs were ever used. He said he cooperated with police because of his work coaching youth track and field. Thomas is a marathon and triathlon athlete who has passion for working with young people.
He said he thought he was being taken to the police station but that officers dropped him off somewhere along Highway 11.
“They kind of laughed. It was a joke to them. To me, I was humiliated,” he said.
Thomas said he had been drinking and doesn’t remember how long it took him to run home but said it took a while.
Thomas filed a complaint with the Public Complaints Commission, which reviews complaints against municipal police in Saskatchewan and determines if an investigation is required.
Police spokesperson Kelsie Fraser said the service will cooperate with an investigation, which would include reviewing GPS logs – the technology was installed in all vehicles in 2016 – and the in-car camera that automatically records when the back door of a patrol car is opened.
“We want to make sure that the investigation is done the right way and get to the bottom of this,” she told CTV News.
In a statement the police service said it takes these types of allegations seriously.
Fraser said the alleged officers involved have not been identified at this time.
Thomas called his experience a ‘Starlight Tour,’ a term used to describe police picking up then abandoning Indigenous people on the outskirts of the city.
Neil Stonechild froze to death in 1990 and two Saskatoon police officers, who were not found criminally responsible for his death, were fired after a public inquiry.
“I’m just baffled by the fact that I don’t know how to react to feeling like that. It’s not OK,” Thomas said.
Thomas said until now, he’s only had positive experiences with police and that a difficult conversation lies ahead with the kids he coaches and his own children because he always tries to teach them to be positive.
The PCC is reviewing the complaint and will determine if it will pursue an investigation.