BUENA PARK, Calif. — A simple convenience store purchase escalated into a potentially deadly dispute when an off-duty police officer pulled his weapon on a man over a $1.19 pack of candy, and the victim of the harassment says he doesn’t want this incident to get swept under the rug. CBS Los Angeles reports security video clearly shows Jose Arreola paying for a roll of Mentos at a Buena Park convenience store.
A man later identified as a city police officer out of uniform walks in after Arreola puts the candy in his pocket, prompting the officer to tell him, “Hey, give that back. I’m a police officer.”
At that point, the officer pulls out a handgun from his sweater pocket, stunning Arreola, who quickly puts the candy back on the counter. “Oh, I paid for it!” exclaims Arreola.
The officer then tells Arreola, “Get your cash and leave,” before Arreola again protests, “I paid for it.”
The officer asks the clerk if he did, in fact, pay for the candy. After he asks the clerk the same question multiple times, the officer says, “My apologies. My apologies.”
“You know who I am, right?” the officer asks the clerk. “Yeah, I know,” he responds.
They were tense moments Arreola feels were fueled by the officer’s lack of respect for him.
“The hardest thing for me was, believe it or not, it wasn’t really the gun,” said Arreola, pausing as he seems almost overcome by emotion. “It was his arrogance, his way of talking to me. […] He treated me like a piece of trash.”
The March 16 incident occurred while Arreola’s wife waited in their car. The couple filed a complaint against the City of Buena Park the following day, which led to the discovery of the video.
We’re not lying about what happened, ’cause that’s how they’ve made us feel,” Jackie Arreola told CBS2 News as she began to weep.
The Buena Park Police Dept. declined to comment on the case, saying the pending litigation prevented them from saying much, but they issued a statement from Chief Corey S. Sianez on Facebook, which read in part,
“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. However, because there is an ongoing personnel investigation and potential litigation pending against the city, I am unable to discuss the details of our investigation.”
The Arreolas told CBS2 they don’t want the officer fired, but that they do want him to get 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,” said Jose.
The couple said the City of Buena Park would not give them the name of the officer, adding they hope to figure out a settlement out of court.
Below is the department’s full statement on the case:
“A message from our Chief of Police:
In an effort to be transparent, I am sharing an article with you that was in the OC Register today regarding an off-duty incident that occurred involving one of our police officers. 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. We were aware of this incident after it occurred and we immediately began conducting an administrative investigation into the conduct of the officer involved. The complainant also filed a formal complaint against the officer alleging misconduct and also retained an attorney. 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. However, because there is an ongoing personnel investigation and potential litigation pending against the city, I am unable to discuss the details of our investigation. I can definitely assure you that our investigation will be thorough and if the officer is found to be in violation of any policies and procedures, he will be held accountable. Thank you for your patience and understanding.”
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