Alberta stormtrooper bloodied during blaster-related police response on May the Fourth
CALGARY -- Lethbridge's chief of police is calling for an investigation into the actions of responding officers after video of an arrest outside a Star Wars-themed restaurant on May 4 surfaced online.
A 19-year-old employee at Coco Vanilla Galactic Cantina dressed as a familiar Star Wars stormtrooper and danced outside the restaurant with blaster in hand to mark the occasion of May the Fourth, the day Star Wars fans celebrate the iconic film franchise as a play on the "May the force be with you" line.
Lethbridge police arrived with guns drawn, shouting at the teenage girl to drop her blaster, which she says she didn't hear through her storm trooper helmet.
"Apparently a couple of people had called 911 and said that there was somebody with a gun on 13 Street N.," said Brad Whalen, the restaurant's owner. "A number of police officers had shown up to our business with guns drawn on our employee."
Now, Lethbridge's chief of police is calling for an investigation into the actions of the responding officers after video of the arrest surfaced.
Whalen says Ashley suffered a bloody nose after she was tackled to the ground by officers and handcuffed.
"The officers approached the person and provided verbal directions to that person to drop the weapon, to put themselves on to the ground," said Insp. Jason Walper of the LPS. "The person did not comply with police verbal directions. Eventually they did after multiple repeated orders given by the police officers."
Whalen suspects the stormtrooper helmet restricted Ashley's ability to hear the officers and he believes police should have been able to piece together the situation.
"Sometimes you really have to use common sense," said Whalen. "When all the things fit in the box — you've got the signs, you've got the music, the atmosphere.
"A duck is a duck when it's walking like a duck."
Walper says the LPS take all weapons complaints seriously.
"Although I do understand the linkage to Star Wars, it's certainly not a day where our officers are expecting to have to respond to a firearms complaint."
As of Tuesday afternoon, the worker was not facing any charges in connection to the incident but police say the investigation into the matter is ongoing.
LPS Chief Scott Woods initiated an investigation under the Alberta Police Act to determine whether the responding officers "acted appropriated within the scope of their training and LPS policies and procedures." The investigation was spurred by video of the arrest circulating on social media.
According to Whalen, Ashley was left shaken over the ordeal.
With files from CTV Lethbridge's Vanessa Arrate