Star Wars fans the world over celebrated May the 4th earlier this week. Unfortunately, the festivities didn’t go off without a hitch for everyone. A teenage girl in Canada, dressed in the uniform of a villainous Stormtrooper from the films, had an unpleasant encounter with police following 911 reports stemming from the plastic gun she carried.
Stormtrooper Meets Police Troopers
The 19-year-old dressed in the costume as part of a May the 4th promotion for the restaurant she works at, which features a Star Wars theme. “She was kind of walking out back-and-forth in front of the property by the sidewalk, just waving at people,” the restaurant’s owner, Bradley Whalen, told Global News.
In a statement, the Lethbridge Police Service (LPS) said that they received two 911 reports that morning of a person wearing a Stormtrooper costume and carrying a firearm.
“Upon police arrival the subject dropped the weapon but did not initially comply with further police directions to get down on the ground,” the statement read.
Video of the incident has surfaced on social media. In the footage, police point firearms at the crying girl and shout at her to get on the ground. Later, officers cuff the girl as she lies on her stomach, before sitting her up and removing her helmet.
WARNING: The following video contains explicit language.
Unbelievable, just got video of this.— X E V I U S S 💬 (@xeviuss) May 5, 2020
*What the hell happened to common sense:
Girl dressed up as a stormtrooper on may4th facing 3 cops with weapons drawn. You can hear her sobbing. I USED TO dress up with the 501st. Probably not anymore @KinelRyan @DDayCobra #FandomMenace https://t.co/x2HrNLMtOL pic.twitter.com/YrS9bBFJVn
“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,” Whalen said. “They picked it up and had seen it was just a plastic prop.”
Whalen said the costume prevented his teen employee from easily complying with police orders. “A number of police squad cars had showed up, the police say they tried to get her to comply and she didn’t comply,” Whalen said, “[but] wearing the helmet for the Stormtrooper – I’ve had it on myself – it’s hard for anybody to hear you and it’s hard for you to hear other people.”
According to the police report, the teen suffered a minor injury in the confrontation that didn’t require medical attention. Whalen says she sustained a bloody nose when police made her lay on her stomach.
Social media users have vocally denounced the Lethbridge police’s handling of the situation, according to the Daily Mail. “This is pure stupidity,” one Twitter user said. “People could think for 5 seconds, see where she works, maybe call the store, but no…let’s just jump to conclusions and the have three cops with the common sense of porridge come make her life a living hell.”
Another user called the officers’ actions “an unnecessary reaction and abuse of power,” before asking, “Why did they do this?”
Whalen has joined in on criticizing the police response as well. “My concern isn’t that police responded to someone who called and reported,” he said. “My problem is 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.”
Meanwhile, LPS Chief Scott Woods has asked for an investigation into whether the officers acted appropriately, according to the police statement. “A public update will be provided after the investigation has been completed and reviewed,” the statement read.