Things went from fun to dangerous for a cosplayer, eventually putting her life in jeopardy.
May the Fourth. That date is known by most around the world as Star Wars Day. This is the day that Star Wars cosplay is ratcheted up a notch or two. In the days of yore, you know BC (before corona), stores celebrated with Star Wars sales, Star Wars goodies, they would even had employees dress the part. Take, for instance, a young lady in Alberta, Canada who this year was dressed as a Storm Trooper behest of her employer.
Business owner Bradley Whalen, who runs Coco Vanilla Galactic Cantina, asked one of his female employees to dress as a stormtrooper. She gladly complied As Whalen explains to the Lethbridge News Now, “We had music playing in the parking lot, we had one of our staff dress up as a stormtrooper kind of waving to people walking up and down the road, we had people stopping by and getting pictures with the stormtrooper, we put a couple of promotions on in the restaurant to entice people to come.”
The good intent was there, and it was working fine. Until it wasn’t. Things went from fun to dangerous for his employee, eventually putting her life in jeopardy. The video below shows what happened…
Whalen believes that someone from the public saw his employee walking in front of the store with her plastic stormtrooper gun and called the police. Lethbridge Police Service (LPS) say they received two 911 calls complaining about firearms near the business address of 13 Street North. So, police were dispatched. Three police cruisers and a police truck.
As they arrived, they saw the stormtrooper and guns were immediately drawn. The officers began to yell at the employee, which prompted Whalen to come out from his store to tell the police the gun was plastic. He was told to get back inside his store. Whalen explains, “Police officers had guns drawn, pointed at my employee. They were yelling at her to put the gun down so she threw the plastic gun on the ground. At that point in time when I came out, she was on her knees kneeling down on the ground. The police had already checked and seen that the gun was plastic so they already knew that there wasn’t an issue or a risk there.”
In the accompanying video, it is clear the employee followed every directive given by the police officers. She dropped the gun when told to do so.
LPS Inspector Jason Walper gave a different account claiming “the person did not comply with the police verbal directions. Eventually, they did after multiple repeated orders given by the police officers.”
But Whalen countered LPS’s claims. “She kept yelling at them that she couldn’t kneel down because, in that stormtrooper costume, you can’t even sit down in it, like it’s impossible to sit down. She kept telling them that she couldn’t get down is what she explained to me after we talked to her. It wasn’t a matter of her not wanting to cooperate,” Whalen continued. “She dropped the gun when they told her to and just forcing her, making her get down on the ground after they determined that she wasn’t a risk and that the gun wasn’t even a real gun, it was a plastic Star Wars blaster.”
The police eventually got to the employee once she finally made it to her knees. Walper even acknowledged the officers rough handling of the employee as they “pushed the individual down to the ground” eventually getting her in handcuffs. From her going face first into the ground, the employee suffered a bloodied nose. No other injuries, besides the traumatic ones, were reported.
It didn’t take long for news to reach the world as Captain Kirk himself, William Shatner, tweeted out his disgust.
In the aftermath of the unfortunate situation, the LPS issued this statement. “Upon reviewing the file and additional information, including video circulating on social media, Chief Scott Woods has directed a service investigation under the Alberta Police Act that will look into whether the officers’ acted appropriately within the scope of their training and LPS policies and procedures.” LPS also stated they will not be making any further statements until the investigation is complete.