A 20-year-old First Nations man claims Winnipeg police officers drove him to the outskirts of the city, dropped him off and threatened him with a stun gun.
The Winnipeg Police Service, however, says it has not received any formal complaint about the alleged incident. Spokeswoman Const. Natalie Aitken said the service has only heard about it through the media reports.
A member of the WPS will be contacting the family of the alleged victim to talk about their concerns, she said.
Joseph Maud, a band councillor at the Skownan First Nation, said his nephew Evan Maud is shaken up from the incident, which allegedly occurred Dec. 3.
The family as a whole is afraid to deal with the police directly, so they intend to meet with the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs on Wednesday afternoon and request the AMC act as an intermediary, said Joseph Maud.
A complaint will then be filed with the Law Enforcement Review Agency, a provincially mandated, independent investigative body that investigates non-criminal complaints about municipal police officers in Manitoba.
'My family is appalled and sickened by the barbaric tactics used by the City of Winnipeg police department.'—Joseph Maud
According to Joseph Maud, Evan was waiting for a transit bus near Main Street and Magnus Avenue when he was approached by an unmarked undercover vehicle, and what he believed to be a police officer told him to get inside.
"My nephew was driven to the outskirts of the city and forced to walk on the yellow (highway divider) line to determine if he was intoxicated," Maud wrote in a letter to AMC Grand Chief Ron Evans.
"My nephew told the officer to take him to the drunk tank. The officer took his winter jacket and told Evan to run. The officers followed close behind threatening to Taser him.
"All through this time, Evan was having a hard time to breathe, he was falling and stumbling. Finally, the cruiser leaves him to make his own way back to the city."
The temperature at the time was -28 C, said Maud, who is in Winnipeg this week to help his nephew.
His nephew managed to make his way home to his Elmwood neighbourhood residence.
"My family is appalled and sickened by the barbaric tactics used by the City of Winnipeg police department," Maud said.
University of Manitoba professor Elizabeth Comack recently studied cases where aboriginal people claimed to have been subjected to so-called starlight tours, in which individuals are driven by police officers outside of town and abandoned on the side of the road.
She said she is not surprised by Maud's allegations.
"I'd like to say I'm surprised by it, but I'm not. If anything, my reaction is one of relief that Evan has had the courage to come forward," she said.
'I'd like to say I'm surprised by it, but I'm not. If anything, my reaction is one of relief that Evan has had the courage to come forward.' —University of Manitoba professor Elizabeth Comack
Comack is confident police will be able to find out exactly what happened, as police cars are equipped with GPS systems.
Starlight tours were thrust into the national spotlight in 2000 when a First Nations man in Saskatoon, Darrell Night, came forward to say he had been victimized in that way.
Two police officers with that city's police force were eventually found guilty of unlawful confinement and sentenced to eight months in jail.
The controversy renewed interest in the case of Neil Stonechild, a 17-year-old First Nations man found frozen to death in a remote field in Saskatoon in November 1990.
In 2003, the government of Saskatchewan called an inquiry into his death and in October 2004, the province released the report.
The inquiry could not conclusively say Stonechild was subjected to a starlight tour, but suggested he might very well have been.
It did, however, offer a damning indictment of the Saskatoon police service, criticizing the inadequate investigation into Stonechild's death.
As well, the two officers who were found to have had Stonechild in their custody that evening were eventually fired.