A starlight tour is the non-sanctioned police practice of picking up individuals in their cruisers, mostly homeless, drug addicts, or other such marginalized people, and taking them outside of town where they would be beaten and/or abandoned on the side of the road.
A suspected case in Canada resulted in an inquiry in 2003 into the hypothermia death of Neil Stonechild in 1990, as part of a series of such cases, known as the Saskatoon freezing deaths. The inquiry found that he might have been subjected to a starlight tour by the police. However, the inquiry found that at the time of the death the police investigation was not adequate to conclude what the circumstances were surrounding Stonechild's death.
In January 2000, Darrel Night was dropped off on the outskirts of Saskatoon but was able to survive. The two officers involved, constables Dan Hatchen and Ken Munson of the Saskatoon Police Service, were convicted of unlawful confinement in September 2001 and sentenced to eight months in prison. The incident was the subject of the National Film Board of Canada documentary "Two Worlds Colliding" by Tasha Hubbard.
In December 2010, a young aboriginal man named Evan Maud in Winnipeg accused the police of taking him to the edge of the city at 4:00 a.m., threatening him with a Taser, and taking his jacket. The police stated that the accusation was false and laid charges against Maud of criminal mischief, after evidence surfaced such as video of Maud boarding a bus 15 minutes after being stopped by police, corroboration by police GPS, and testimony by witnesses that Maud was not wearing a jacket that night.
In pop culture
- A starlight tour is notably depicted in the Sylvester Stallone film First Blood.
- In the film A Clockwork Orange, the protagonist, Alex, is taken out into the countryside and assaulted by police officers who were previous gang members of his.
- The Nick Nolte film Mulholland Falls, a story of a Los Angeles police detective and his partners, is named for the protagonists' particular style of starlight tours. To wit, the detectives will approach a member of organized crime who has recently arrived in town and make what appears at first to be merely a harassment arrest . However, instead of taking the man to a police station, they take him into the countryside to a large cliff, which they euphemistically call "Mulholland Falls", and where he is thrown to his death.
- Wright, David H. (October 2004). "Final Report". Commission of Inquiry Into Matters Relating to the Death of Neil Stonechild. Retrieved 2012-09-25.
- "Neil Stonechild: Timeline". CBC News. November 3, 2005. Retrieved 2012-09-25.
- "Two Worlds Colliding". National Film Board of Canada. Retrieved 2012-09-25.
- "Threat claims shake police-aboriginal relations". CBC News. December 9, 2010. Retrieved 2010-12-12.
- "Man's abuse claims false: Winnipeg police". Winnipeg: CBC News. December 18, 2010. Retrieved 2012-09-25.
- Turenne, Paul (December 18, 2010). "Cops say man's freezing story a lie". CNEWS (Winnipeg). QMI Agency. Retrieved 2012-09-25.
- The Stonechild Effect: 10 years after the explosive inquiry, a look at how one teen's death changed a city, The Saskatoon StarPhoenix
- "In Depth: Aboriginal Canadians: Starlight Tours", CBC News
- Report of the Stonechild Inquiry
- "Conference confronts police ‘culture of oppression’", Aboriginal Multi-Media Society
- "Police Oversight", Justice Education Society and Centre for Education, Law, & Society at SFU