A video of an odd encounter with law enforcement at a gas station in California appears to illustrate how police officers can overreact to what they perceive as tiny slights and often have a hard time accepting when they’re wrong. The video clearly shows how Jose Arreola went from being just a regular guy buying a pack of Mentos at a service station one minute to being an accused thief with an off-duty police officer pulling a gun on him. Arreola now says he believes he was the victim of racial profiling.
The 49-year-old man went into the Chevron station in Buena Park in mid-March to go to the ATM. Arreola’s wife had asked him to buy some mints so after he withdrew $60 from the ATM he went to the counter and plunked down a $20 bill for the $1.19 roll of Mentos. While waiting for his change, Arreola put the mints in his pocket. That’s when the man standing behind Arreola in line, who came into the store after he had handed the clerk the cash, identifies himself as a police officer and takes out the gun from his pocket. Despite Arreola protesting that he had just paid for the item, the officer insists that he must put the mints back on the counter. It is only after the clerk confirmed the purchase that the officer apologized and handed him the candy.
“It’s been a month and I still can’t shake it,” Arreola told the Orange County Register.
“It was traumatic, the whole incident.” The paper talked to experts who agreed the whole episode is astounding, considering a gun should only be pulled as a last resort. In a statement, Buena Park Police Chief Corey S. Sianez said the department is carrying out an internal investigation. “I want you to know that after I watched the video I found it to be disturbing, as I’m sure it was to you,” he wrote in the statement that was posted on Facebook.