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Saskatoon mother wants answers from police after innocent teen son detained at gunpoint by officers

Tracy Bergen says her son went to buy a chocolate bar with his friends and ended up staring down the barrel of a police handgun. (CBC - image credit)
Tracy Bergen says her son went to buy a chocolate bar with his friends and ended up staring down the barrel of a police handgun. (CBC - image credit)

Tracy Bergen wants to know why Saskatoon police detained her 15-year-old son and his two friends at gunpoint outside a Dollarama store in an east-side strip mall on Nov. 25.

Police are refusing to meet her face-to-face to answer her questions.

The incident happened just after 8 p.m. CST on a Saturday night. Bergen said the teens had gone to the store to buy chocolate bars.

She said she first became aware of what happened when a police officer phoned to say her son and his friends had been detained as suspects in an armed robbery.

Saskatoon police spokesperson Alyson Edwards wrote in an email that officers were investigating an armed robbery that had happened in a different neighbourhood about 40 minutes earlier. Two men, armed with handguns and wearing masks, had robbed another man withdrawing cash from an ATM, Edwards said.

"All I can say is that an officer in the area spotted the three and they seemed to match the description of the suspects," she wrote.

"The males were then questioned and found not to have been involved in the armed robbery. They were released immediately and parents were contacted."

The police explanation does not make sense to Bergen.

"When I contacted police to get an explanation and find out what had happened, the description that they told me they were going off of was, 'Well, your son was wearing a black toque.' So that was the description. And the armed robbers were wearing balaclavas," she said.

"So because my son was wearing a black toque, I guess that equated to he was the armed robber."

Bergen wants some accountability from police around what happened. She's dismayed at how officers went directly to drawn guns, based on a minimum information. She's also disappointed that no one will give the courtesy of meeting in person.

"A parent of one of the males who was stopped has contacted the SPS Professional Standards Division, expressed their concerns about the incident," police public relations director Alyson Edwards wrote in an email.

"They were advised of the formal complaints process."

Bergen said her son is still rattled by the experience.

"He said the first thought that went through his head was, 'I'm really glad I took my hands out of my pockets to open the door — because if my hands had been in my pockets, would they have shot me?'"