By Jensen, Randy on May 9, 2020.
An outside agency will investigate the actions of several Lethbridge Police Service officers who responded to a firearms complaint on Monday.
A 19-year-old woman was promoting Coco Vanilla Galactic Cantina restaurant on Monday and was carrying a plastic gun while dressed as a stormtrooper when police responded to two 911 calls about the firearm.
The weapon was ultimately confirmed to be a fake firearm and the woman, who indicated she was an employee promoting the business, was not charged. The female sustained a minor injury but did not require medical attention.
On Tuesday morning, after reviewing the file and additional information, including video circulating on social media, LPS Chief Scott Woods notified the Alberta Director of Law Enforcement.
The DLE further reviewed the matter and determined it was out of scope and the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) – an independent provincial investigation agency – would not assume the investigation. Chief Woods subsequently directed a service investigation, to be conducted by an external agency. He contacted the Medicine Hat Police Service on Tuesday who have since assumed carriage of the file and initiated their investigation.
LPS said in a news release it is committed to ensuring transparency in this matter and once the independent investigation has been completed and reviewed, a public update will be provided.
Restaurant owner Brad Whalen said it should have been obvious the costume was a way to get attention for his Star-Wars-themed restaurant on May 4 – a popular day with fans of the movie franchise because of the famous line: “May the force be with you.”
A video of the encounter, shared on social media, shows an officer standing by the toy blaster while Whalen yells from the restaurant door that it’s fake.
“Star Trek” actor William Shatner, who played Captain Kirk in another mega-sci-fi movie and television franchise, tweeted boldly about his criticism of what happened.
“Captain’s Log Stardate 49: Sending my contempt this morning to the @lethpolice of Alberta, Canada & @LPSChief1. Rifles drawn for a plastic toy Cosplayer? Didn’t comply right away? Are you blind Chief? Watch the video to see how quickly she complied,” he posted Tuesday.
“This cannot be covered up.”
– With files from The Canadian Press