An 18-year-old Calgary man is speaking out after he says police detained him at gunpoint in Delta, B.C., in a case of mistaken identity.
It happened Thursday as Noel Kene and three friends, all of whom are Black and between the ages of 18 and 20, were in the final days of a camping trip to B.C.
Kene said the group were driving through the city when a police cruiser pulled in front of them and forced them to stop.
“Officers get out of the car with their guns out and then two other police cars come by and then they have their guns as well,” he said.
“And then they all just surround the car. And then they tell us to put our hands up.”
The group was removed from their SUV one at a time and handcuffed, he said.
Kene said police had received a report of someone waving a gun out the window of a white SUV with Alberta licence plates. The group was in a silver SUV with Alberta plates.
He and his friends were left handcuffed in the back of squad cars in sweltering heat for about an hour and a half as police searched their vehicles, he said.
“In that situation, you never know what’s going to happen to you — you never know if someone actually tried to set you up in this situation,” he said.
“But it’s like you never know if you are fully innocent at that point in time or if there’s more variables to the situation that you don’t know about because you’re in a police car … that uncertainty is genuinely terrifying.”
A police search of the vehicle turned up an axe and knife the group had been using while camping, but nothing else.
Police eventually let the group go with what Kene described as a “condescending” apology.
“Obviously, I don’t want to just draw strings and make assumptions and stuff, but I don’t know — I feel like if I wasn’t Black, if all of us, all three weren’t Black … we would have got treated like a little bit better with less contempt,” he said.
“It didn’t seem like they were trying to assure us that if we were innocent, we’d be OK.”
In a statement, a Delta police spokesperson confirmed officers had stopped an SUV following a firearm report.
Sgt. James Sandberg said it happened in an area with only one way in and out, and that the vehicle had a “similar description” to the one they were looking for.