An off-duty cop pulled a gun when he assumed a paying customer was stealing.
Jose Arreola was attempting to purchase a pack of Mentos gum when he found himself in a heated moment that could have almost cost him his life.
It was on March 16th that Arreola, en route to a nightclub with his wife, stopped into a Chevron gas station in Buena Park, California to use an ATM. His wife asked him to buy him some Mentos while he went inside.
In security camera footage Arreola can be seen putting the candy on the counter and handing the clerk payment for the $1.19 pack of gum. While he awaits his change, he goes ahead and puts the Mentos in his pocket. Behind him, a man dressed in all black immediately pulls a gun from the pocket of his hoody, announcing himself as a police officer and ordering Jose Arreola to put the Mentos back on the counter.
Arreola instinctively puts his hands and attempts to explain that he paid for the Mentos multiple times. The off-duty cop goes on to tell Arreola to take his money and leave.
Arreola grabs his money and as he heads for the door, the officer approaches the clerk and asks him if Arreola did in fact pay for the Mentos. The cashier responds in the affirmative.
“Are you sure?” the officer asks. The cashier again responds, “Yes.” The officer then turns to Arreola and says, “My apologies.”
In the clip Jose is clearly shaken and in a recent interview he revealed that he “still can’t shake it.”
“It was traumatic, the whole incident,” he explained. “I grew up in Santa Ana. I’ve been shot at before [...] It scared me because this guy can shoot me. My wife’s in the car and I thought my wife could be a widow after tonight. He was so arrogant and cocky, because he holds a badge—because he's a cop," Arreola added. "I just felt anger […] We just feel like we can't trust cops no more. I've seen a lot of videos of cops mistreating people, and I never thought it would happen to me. I just feel disappointed."
While Buena Park police have launched an internal investigation, no official statement on the incident has been released.
According to Joe Domanick, associate director of the Center on Media, Crime and Justice at John Jay College, the officer was “way out of policy.”
"It’s astounding there would be a police officer who would think it’s OK to do it,” Domanick tells the Orange County Register. “It’s entirely opposite of what’s going on in police departments. You pull a gun as a last resort. It shows the officer has been poorly trained or not trained at all or he’s totally unsuited to be a police officer."
Currently, Arreola and his attorneys are seeking financial damages from the Buena Park police department.