'Singled out': Police question man with albinism who didn't look like son
Published Thursday, March 17, 2016 10:36AM EDT
A Toronto dad says he was left stunned this week after being questioned by police because someone thought that he and his son did not look alike.
Jason Thompson has albinism and his very light blond hair and skin are a contrast to his four-year-old son Xavier, who has darker skin with brown eyes and hair.
The father and son tried to get into a local movie theatre to see Zootopia on Tuesday, but when they found it sold out, they took public transit home.
While they were on a bus nearing their stop, the driver got a call from his dispatcher and pulled the TTC bus over without explanation.
After several minutes of sitting at the side of the road, Thompson asked how much longer it would be and whether he and his son could just get off and walk. The driver told him that no one was allowed to leave the bus.
Thompson said he found it funny at first that he was trapped on a bus and was about to send out a tweet on his phone, when two police officers arrived and boarded the bus.
Thompson was surprised to find one of them approach him.
“He said, ‘Sir, is this your son?’ I said ‘Yes, he is’,” Thompson told CTV News Channel Thursday.
The officer then told him they had more questions and asked him to please step off the bus.
At this point, Thompson began racking his brain trying to remember whether he and his son had been singing too loudly at the bus stop or whether he had been rude to the driver.
“I didn’t do anything wrong that I could see, so I was thinking, ‘What’s happening here? Why am I being singled out?’” he said.
Finally, the officer escorted them to a quiet spot at the back of the bus and explained that a fellow citizen had called in to police to tell them that they had seen a man and a boy who didn’t look alike and they were concerned.
“I was gobsmacked at that moment. I couldn’t believe it. I probably almost fell down,” Thompson said.
He said the officers were quickly able to see that Xavier was fine and staying with Thompson willingly. The officers assured them there wasn’t a problem.
He said the officers took down their names and dates of birth and then gave them a ride home -- even turning on the patrol car’s siren for Xavier.
Thompson says he doesn’t have a problem with the officers, who did what they could to protect his dignity through the incident.
“They were really nice and they were very apologetic about it,” he said
Still, he’s stunned that such an incident could happen in a city as diverse as Toronto.
”I’m really baffled why this would happen,” he said, adding that he now has a little more sympathy for people who get pulled over because of the colour of their skin.
“They’re black so people think they’ve done something wrong. And here’s a very white guy who gets pulled over because he has a kid who’s beige or brown. So it was really surprising and shocking to me.”