The Canadian actor best known for playing Star Trek's beloved Captain Kirk waded into a galaxy far, far away, criticizing both the Lethbridge police department and its chief for what many see as an excessive use of force against the woman.
"Rifles drawn for a plastic toy Cosplayer? Didn't comply right away? Are you blind Chief?" Shatner tweeted alongside the video captured of Monday's incident.
As previously reported, the police incident happened outside the Star Wars-themed restaurant Coco Vanilla Galactic Cantina in Lethbridge, AB. In honour or Star Wars Day, a 19-year-old employee named Ashley dressed up as a stormtrooper, but when she was dancing in the packing lot outside the restaurant, she drew the attention of police due to her plastic and very-not-real blaster.
Captain's Log Stardate 49: Sending my contempt this morning to the @lethpolice of Alberta, Canada & @LPSChief1. Rifles drawn for a plastic toy Cosplayer? Didn't comply right away? Are you blind Chief? Watch the video to see how quickly she complied. This cannot be covered up. 😤 https://t.co/b5bmllyfMU— William Shatner (@WilliamShatner) May 6, 2020
Video of the incident — which has now been video more than 300,000 times on YouTube and many times more on Twitter — soon captured police tackling her to the ground, putting her in handcuffs and reportedly leaving her with a bloody nose. According to the employee, she could not hear the police commands due to the stormtrooper helmet, with the rigid plastic suit causing her difficulty to kneel down despite police having their guns drawn.
"The officers approached the person and provided verbal directions to that person to drop the weapon, to put themselves on to the ground," said Insp. Jason Walper of Lethbridge police earlier this week. "The person did not comply with police verbal directions. Eventually they did after multiple repeated orders given by the police officers."
Lethbridge's chief of police later called for an investigation into the incident.
Shatner's response was this: "Oh please! Did you see the gun? Also when she's on her knees and the officer has his rifle ready to shoot; he is a mere few feet from the gun. If he couldn't see it was a toy he should retire, yet they continued and slammed her to the ground and bloodied her nose."
Shatner's criticism of Lethbridge police didn't stop with the stormtrooper incident either. He went on to point to a 2019 incident involving a Lethbridge police officer euthanizing a deer by repeatedly running it over with his vehicle.
🙄 Oh please! Did you see the gun? Also when she's on her knees and the officer has his rifle ready to shoot; he is a mere few feet from the gun. If he couldn't see it was a toy he should retire, yet they continued and slammed her to the ground and bloodied her nose. https://t.co/ZkB0Ubnipq pic.twitter.com/ePhxCJTGQn— William Shatner (@WilliamShatner) May 6, 2020
Speaking to CTV News, owner of the Coco Vanilla Galactic Cantina Brad Whalen said he was pleasantly surprised to see Shatner's response.
And running over a deer a number of times to kill it by a member of the same department is not indicative of a cognitive problem? The video shows it but internal investigations found no issues? You advocate we need to keep quiet because...????🤷🏼♂️ There is a problem in that Dept. https://t.co/sWKEsCsQSm— William Shatner (@WilliamShatner) May 6, 2020
"To me, it's just wow. To have somebody like that throwing his support our way and standing up for our employee and restaurant is amazing," he said.
Whalen went on to explain that the support following the incident has been tremendous, with one man even offering to bring out 1,000 stormtroopers at the restaurant next Star Wars Day.
"It's constant. Everybody wants to know exactly what happened, how things have been going, how our employee is doing," he said.
For now, Lethbridge police are still conducting their investigation into the troubling incident. "We are a little skeptical in regards to LPS investigating their own people," said Whalen. "But at the end of the day the video tells the story."