Ithaca, N.Y. — An internal investigation has found that an Ithaca police sergeant was essentially justified in his decision to pull his weapon on two unarmed teens.

But at a tearful, emotional forum attended by dozens in Ithaca on Tuesday, the teens’ mothers said that something had to have gone terribly wrong for their innocent sons to have faced an officer’s gun.

Ithaca police have confirmed that Sgt. John Norman pursued the teens for several blocks in an unmarked car.

“Someone in an unmarked car… you’re going to run,” one of the mothers said in an interview with media after the forum at Ithaca’s GIAC. “I teach my kids stranger, danger — run, obviously. If you don’t know that person, don’t talk.”

The mothers said in a prepared statement that it was unfair for the teens to be pursued as they were.

“Our black sons were stalked from the north side of town to the south side by a white adult male, dressed in non-police clothing and driving a gray Volvo with 2 child safety seats in the back,” the statement said.

“Our sons feared for their safety, thinking they were being pursued by a dangerous individual, at one point even hiding in bushes to get away from the man.”

The forum was held before a candidates’ debate in the Ithaca city court judge race.

The event occurred at 5:30 p.m. We’ll be updating this story as soon as we get the chance.

Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.