Calgary

Stormtrooper attracts the wrong kind of force as Star Wars promotion takes a turn

Police officers in Lethbridge, Alta., are being investigated after at least one pulled a gun on a woman who was dressed in a stormtrooper costume and carrying what turned out to be a fake firearm as part of a Star Wars-themed business promotion.

Passerby records video of police ordering woman in Star Wars costume to ground on May the Fourth

A woman dressed as a stormtrooper was apprehended Monday by Lethbridge police when they believed the gun she had could be real. The actions of those officers are now being investigated internally after video of the incident was posted to social media. (Deiby Corleoni/YouTube)

Read the update posted on May 8, 2020: Stormtrooper takedown now to be investigated by external police force


Police officers in Lethbridge, Alta., are being investigated after at least one pulled a gun on a woman who was dressed in a stormtrooper costume and carrying what turned out to be a fake firearm as part of a Star Wars-themed business promotion.

It started when police responded to two 911 calls reporting someone in a stormtrooper outfit was carrying a firearm along the 500 block of 13 Street North, the Lethbridge Police Service said in a release issued Tuesday.

The woman in the costume was actually trying to promote a restaurant on May 4, or "May the Fourth" — a day Star Wars fans celebrate as Star Wars Day. It's a pun on the iconic line in the movies: "May the force be with you."

A passerby was shooting video of the stormtrooper in a parking lot outside the Coco Vanilla Galactic Cantina — encouraging her to march like the menacing soldiers do in the movies — when police showed up.

"Get down on the ground," shouted one officer, while another approached the costumed woman carrying his long-gun.

"Upon police arrival, the subject dropped the weapon but did not initially comply with further police directions to get down on the ground," police said in the release. 

"The weapon was ultimately confirmed to be a fake firearm and the female subject, who indicated she was an employee promoting a local business, was not charged. The female sustained a minor injury but did not require medical attention."

Lethbridge police investigate themselves over using force 1:05

The man shooting the scene on video — which was later posted on YouTube — can be heard expressing his amazement that the police didn't realize the woman posed no threat.

And as he watched the police action from the door of the restaurant, owner Brad Whalen called out, "It's a plastic gun!"

"Are you serious?," he said, as three officers handcuffed his employee, now lying face down on the ground.

Whalen told CBC News the police appeared to continue with the takedown even after his employee had thrown the plastic gun to the ground. She was handcuffed while face-down on the pavement, which left her with a bloody nose, he said.

"I understand with everything that happened in Nova Scotia that police worry about things like that, but, it's Star Wars Day," he said, in a reference to the recent tragedy when a man killed 22 people in a shooting rampage.

"Our signs on the front of the building say 'Star Wars.' We were playing Star Wars music. It's a stormtrooper, with a stormtrooper blaster. You know, you have to use a little bit of common sense."

The woman wasn't charged, police say.

The force says Chief Scott Woods has reviewed the file and additional information — including the video circulating on social media — and directed a service investigation under the Alberta Police Act to look into whether the officers acted appropriately within the scope of their training and LPS policies and procedures.

With files from Lethbridge News Now

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