$1.19 worth of breath mints almost cost a man his life.
An off-duty police officer drew his weapon on a man he believed stole a pack of Mentos from a gas station convenience store, newly released surveillance video shows.
According to the Washington Post, 370 people have already been shot and killed by police in 2018. At least 32.7 percent of those people were minorities (in 28 percent of instances the victim’s race is unknown). On March 16, Jose Arreola thought he was going to be the next number added to that tally.
Arreola is shown on video paying for the mints at the counter of a Chevron station in Buena Park, Calif. He puts the mints in his pocket while waiting for his change. The man behind him instantly draws his weapon, says he is a cop and orders Arreola to put the mints back on the counter.
“Oh!” says Arreola, clearly caught off guard. He tells the officer, “I paid for it.”
“Try stealing that again,” the officer says.
“I just paid for these,” Arreola repeats. He glances back and forth at the cashier and the officer.
“Get your cash and leave,” the cop tells Arreola twice.
“Did he pay for this”
“Yes,” the cashier says.
“My apologies,” the cop, now believing Arreola, says immediately.
Buena Park Police Department Chief of Police Corey Sianez posted a message on Facebook after the story received traction from an Orange County Register article. He calls the video “disturbing” but still appears to show some defense for his officer.
“The video of the incident clearly shows our officer drawing his gun, but not pointing it, at a subject he allegedly believed was committing a theft inside” the mini-mart of a Chevron gas station in Buena Park,” Sianez wrote on May 4. He added that an internal investigation has already been launched “and if the officer is found to be in violation of any policies and procedures, he will be held accountable.”
Apologies don’t change anything, though. The incident took place on March 16 but remains fresh in Arreola’s mind.
“It’s been a month and I still can’t shake it,” he told the Orange County Register. “It was traumatic, the whole incident. [And] I grew up in Santa Ana. I’ve been shot at before.”
“I thought my wife could be a widow after tonight,” he said.
“He was so arrogant and almost cocky, because he holds a badge, because he’s a cop. I just felt anger, most of all.”
“We just feel like we can’t trust cops no more,” said Arreola, speaking about himself and his wife. “I’ve seen a lot of videos of cops mistreating people, but I never thought it would happen to me. And I just feel disappointed. I can respect the agency, the position, of authority, because even when he identified himself as a police officer, he told me, ‘Take that out of your pocket,’ I complied. But now I feel disappointed that I was mistreated and harassed when I did nothing wrong.”
Arreola told CBS2 News that the worst part was not the officer drawing his weapon but the way he treated Arreola.
“He treated me like a piece of trash,” he said.
The officer has yet to be publicly identified. Jackie Arreola, Jose Arreola’s wife, told CBS2 that they do not know the officer’s name, either.
Whoever he is, Arreola told CBS2 that he doesn’t want him fired but hopes he receives better training.
“There’s a lot of good people, officers, but when one or two do bad things, it just reflects on the whole department,” he said.