A 19-year-old employee at a Star Wars themed restaurant in Canada was tackled to the ground and handcuffed after she wore a stormtrooper costume outside the business to celebrate May the Forth, but cops mistook her blaster for a real weapon.
On May 4, also known as Star Wars Day, employees at Coco Vanilla Galatic Cantina in Lethbridge, Canada celebrated the special occasion by having the female staffer dress up in a costume from the film and greet customers outside.
But police were called after a passerby reported a person in a stormtrooper costume carrying a firearm.
Police flocked to the scene with their guns drawn and demanded the employee drop the weapon and she complied.
Shocking video from the incident show at least three officers pointing their guns and screaming ‘Get down on the ground’ as she raises her hands in confusion because she couldn’t hear them through the helmet.
A 19-year-old employee at a Star Wars themed restaurant in Lethbridge, Canada was tackled to the ground and handcuffed after she wore a stormtrooper costume outside the business to celebrate May the Forth, but cops mistook her blaster for a real weapon
Shocking video from the incident show at least three officers pointing their guns screaming ‘Get down on the ground’ before forcing her on the ground. The employee was wearing a stormtrooper costume that made it difficult for her to hear the officers
The employee pictured being placed in handcuffs by the Lethbridge Police Service
The employee suffered a nosebleed in the confrontation but was not charged
When she allegedly refused to comply with orders to get on the ground, cops tackled her and forced her onto the sidewalk.
In the distressing video footage the woman is heard sobbing as police place her arms behind her back to handcuff her.
She suffered a nosebleed in the scuffle and was not charged in the incident.
The officers eventually realized that her blaster was fake.
Bradley Whalen, the owner of Coco Vanilla Galactic Cantina said his employee was promoting his Star Wars-themed business for Star Wars Day and not doing anything harmful.
‘We wanted to do something different… just something to let people know that we are here,’ he said on his business to Global News.
‘She was kind of walking out back-and-forth in front of the property by the sidewalk, just waving at people, and a couple people stopped by and got a picture with her.’
Bradley Whalen, the owner of Coco Vanilla Galactic Cantina said his employee was promoting his Star Wars-themed business for Star Wars Day and not doing anything harmful. The employee pictured in costume
LPS Chief Scott Woods has launched an investigation into the incident to determine whether the officers acted appropriately within the scope of their training and LPS policies
He says that the female employee had been outside promoting the restaurant for about an hour before cops arrived with their guns drawn.
‘She had, at that point, been down on her knees, her blaster — the plastic blaster she was using — had been over by the corner of the parking lot, the police had already looked at it. They picked it up and had seen that it was just a plastic prop,’ Whalen said.
The responding officers are now facing backlash for their handling of the backlash.
Coco Vanilla Galactic Cantina advertised special deals on May 4, Star Wars Day sharing the iconic phrase ‘May the Fourth Be With You’ to their Facebook followers
Two fans of the restaurant shared this picture posing in stormtrooper helmets outside the restaurant on Monday
An exterior shot of the Coco Vanilla Galactic Cantina pictured above
An interior view of the restaurant and its Star Wars memorabilia pictured above
‘My concern isn’t that police responded to someone who called and reported. My problem is that after they determined that it was a fake prop, police still continued to yell at her with the guns pointed, telling her to, “get down on her face, get down on her face” and then proceeded to handcuff her after they knew that it was a plastic prop toy,’ Whalen said.
LPS Chief Scott Woods has launched an investigation into the incident to determine whether the officers acted appropriately within the scope of their training and LPS policies.
According to Whalen, the teenage employee is shaken following the arrest.
Social media users have shared their outrage with the Lethbridge police for their use of excessive force
Social media users have shared their outrage with the Lethbridge police for their use of excessive force.
‘And now I understand why people hate cops… This was an unnecessary reaction and abuse of power. Why did they do this?’ one Twitter user said Monday.
‘Even if it was a real gun I think dropping it immediately and complying is a pretty obvious tell that a 5 year old could see and just look at the thing and be like “oh it’s fake, let me grab some orange tape from my car and we’ll be on our way” and give them a warning but sure,’ another added.
‘This is pure stupidity. People could think for 5 seconds, see where she works, maybe call the store, but no…let’s just jump to conclusions and then have three cops with the common sense of porridge come make her life a living hell,’ one angry Twitter user said.