October 19th, 2020

The Force wasn’t with local stormtrooper


By Shurtz, Delon on May 6, 2020.

Delon Shurtz

lethbridge herald

dshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

The “Star Wars” saga continues, but this time it’s not set a long, long time ago or in a galaxy far away.

It was Monday, in Lethbridge, and instead of droids, Imperial armies or a handful of Jedi Knights, it was a lone stormtrooper outside Coco Vanilla Galactic Cantina on 13 Street North.

Lethbridge police received calls that someone dressed in a stormtrooper costume and carrying a weapon was seen in north Lethbridge. Officers responded and saw the suspect with what appeared to be a firearm and ordered the costume-clad woman to drop the weapon and lie on the ground.

At first “the person did not comply with police verbal directions,” Insp. Jason Walper said later in the day during a news conference at the police station. Eventually she complied, but only after repeated orders by officers.

The 19-year-old woman was detained and as police investigated the incident they learned the woman had been hired by a “nearby business” to do some advertising, and the suspected weapon was only a toy. The woman was not charged.

Although witnesses said the woman immediately complied with police instructions for her to drop the gun, she was still taken to the ground and handcuffed. A witness also noted the employee was unable to immediately drop to the ground because of the difficulty moving in the costume.

Walper said he was informed the woman was not co-operative at first, but eventually dropped to her knees and then was pushed to the ground and handcuffed.

Walper said the first response when police receive a weapons complaint is to ensure the safety of officers and the public, and to seize the weapon.

The subsequent investigation, after everyone is deemed safe, then determines exactly what occurred.

On Tuesday the Lethbridge Police Service announced it had initiated an investigation into the actions of several officers who responded to the firearms complaint Monday morning.

A news release states police responded to two 911 calls reporting a person in a stormtrooper costume was carrying a firearm in the 500 block of 13 Street North.

“Upon police arrival, the subject dropped the weapon but did not initially comply with further police directions to get down on the ground,” the news release states.

The woman sustained a bloody nose which did not require medical attention.

After reviewing the file and additional information, including video circulating on social media, LPS Chief Scott Woods directed a service investigation under the Alberta Police Act to determine whether the officers acted appropriately within the scope of their training and LPS policies and procedures.

Coco Vanilla owner Bradley Whalen said the victim is “doing OK. We’re still trying to evaluate where it goes from here. We’ve had a continual number of lawyers offering to navigate the situation and help us understand what we should do and how we should do it.

“We would hope that when the investigation does take place that it is done fairly that they go beyond what they need to do.”

Whalen added the story has taken on a life of its own with interview requests coming from across North America.

“We’ve just been inundated with so much information, it’s been a little crazy,” said Whalen.

“If there’s been one positive to come out this negative is we’re so grateful for the people who are supporting us. The orders haven’t stopped coming in which is great.”

Whalen said the support from the woman’s family has also been tremendous.

“Her family has been really supportive of our business and we’ll continue to support her as much as we can.”

All employees of the restaurant have been impacted by the encounter, Whalen said, none more so than the woman in the costume.

“Ironically enough, she wasn’t a ‘Star Wars’ fan,” Whalen said. “I don’t think she will be a ‘Star Wars’ fan … if we had any chance to convert her.”

Police said an update will be provided after the investigation has been completed and reviewed.

– With files from The Canadian Press

Follow @DShurtzHerald on Twitter

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davidwpetrie

I would think investigation by the RCMP or a civilian oversight body would be much more appropriate. I am concerned with the somewhat widespread increase in police use of excess force.

ewingbt

Okay . . . what I see in this article is the failure to acknowledge that MAYBE they should have informed police this type of promotion would be taking place that day!!!!??? Would that not have been a smart idea due to the current conditions we find ourselves in??

This is a time of high stress for many, who have not been able to work and pay bills and who have serious concerns of the future. You see many rises in domestic issues, speeding and stunting on our streets, weapons being carried by the drug dealers and addicts, and I have even seen someone high on something that appeared to meth, in a full body costume in downtown Lethbridge. The Nova Scotia massacre is still embedded in our minds!

From what I see here, they responded by the book to a weapons complaint! Many in this city do not know just how many times police respond to weapons complaints since the SCS opened and I can tell you those responses have dramatically increased.
When someone is not complying to commands, actions escalate to protect the suspect, police and those around the subject. Just because the suspected weapon was dropped, that doesn’t mean they would not have another weapon. I have heard of nine handguns removed from a person ordinary light clothing, none visible. The police do not know whether the reported weapon is the one or if it is real! No one got tased, nor were any non-lethal weapons used!

Home made guns made from 3D printers are becoming more common and they kill just as well as a metal gun, shooting the same ammunition!

I see a compete failure by this restaurant owner to take any responsbility in this incident . . . and one more thing . . . why was he open, inviting people to come?

William Shatner even had to make his unlearned, misinformed, misdirected and BRAINDEAD comments known on social media . . . Bill . . . get your head out of that cloud of cannibis and come up for some air . . . get informed before you malign our police force in this city!! You missed the part that this city has the busiest drug consumption site in the world and organized crime has increased it’s presence here . . . our police have been busy dealing with that and many other weapons reported incidents so here is a question for you . . . Come to Lethbridge and see what is going on here and what the community and poice are dealing with before you go off in a clueless rant! Shame on you for attacking your fellow Canadians!!! I am really surprised from your BD comments . . . you should have conferred with Spock . . . LOGIC!

davidwpetrie

I agree with police notification especially of all such events on the evening of October 31 each year.