A 19-year-old employee at a local Star Wars-themed bar got more than she bargained for after dressing up as a Stormtrooper, as less than two hours later, local police were drawing their guns on the woman.
You know those people who stand outside of an establishment and hold signs advertising the business they work for? That’s what Ashley was doing for the Coco Vanilla Galactic Cantina, a local pub in Alberta, Canada. Only she wasn’t holding a sign, she was carrying a Star Wars blaster.
This apparently concerned some local citizens mistaking it for a real gun and pretty soon, multiple cop cars were on the scene, yelling at her to drop the plastic gun and get on the ground. According to the woman, she had difficulty hearing the police because of the helmet and also had trouble getting down due to the outfit.
All of these factors resulted in a perfect storm of confusion which could have ended far more seriously. Thankfully, they let her go at the scene. But not soon enough, according to the pub owner.
“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,” said Bardley Whalen.
“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.”
The initial reaction to a story like this might be that the officers were completely out of line. The fact that several of them couldn’t piece together that she was wearing a Star Wars costume outside of a Star Wars bar on Star Wars Day is a bit confusing, too. Having said that, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently announced that he was banning more than 1,500 models of assault-style weapons. This is in response to the killing of 22 people in Nova Scotia on April 18th and 19th. That story, mixed with an already heightened environment due to COVID-19, would no doubt put law enforcement on high alert.
A person wearing a disguise and holding what looks like a gun from afar has to be taken seriously, too. Though Whalen obviously has a different opinion of the entire situation.
“She must be traumatized. She’s got guns pointed at her because she came to work today to dress up as a stormtrooper to promote Star Wars Day and she lasted an hour before she had guns pointed at her. I’m sitting here wondering, what are people thinking about my business now?”
Due to video of the incident spreading online, Lethbridge is now opening an investigation into at least one of the officer’s actions. As mentioned above, it was just a perfect storm of confusion that was eventually resolved without serious incident. But I think it’s safe to say that Ashley will be declining any further requests to cosplay outside of the pub.