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Man held at gunpoint by off-duty cop over purchased Mentos: 'My wife could be a widow

Jose Arreola was threatened with a gun by an off-duty police officer who accused him of stealing candy from a convenience store. (Image source: Orange County Register video screenshot)

An off-duty police officer pulled his gun on a customer in a Southern California convenience store while mistakenly accusing the customer of stealing a pack of Mentos, The Orange County Register reported.

The incident occurred more than a month ago, but newly released surveillance footage has shed new light on the situation, which the customer, 49-year-old Jose Arreola, said still haunts him.

"It's been a month and I still can't shake it," Arreola told The OC Register. "I thought my wife could be a widow."

What happened?

Arreola stopped at a Chevron station in Buena Park to get cash on the way to a club, and he also purchased a pack of Mentos for his wife.

The March 16 surveillance video shows Arreola paying for the mints. Then, an off-duty police officer walks into the store as Arreola is standing at the check-out counter putting the candy in his jacket pocket as the clerk gets his change.

The officer tells him to put the Mentos back, and identifies himself as law enforcement. As Arreola turns around, the officer pulls a handgun from his pocket, not pointing it directly at Arreola, but in his direction.

As Arreola insists to the officer that he paid for the mints, the store clerk remains silent and Arreola eventually puts the candy back on the countertop.

"Try stealing that again," the officer says in the video. "Get your cash and leave."

At that point, as the clerk is handing Arreola his cash, the officer asks the clerk if Arreola paid for the candy. The clerk says he did.

"Are you sure?" the officer asked. The cashier confirmed again that Arreola did pay for the mints.

The officer then turns to Arreola, gun now back in his pocket, and apologizes. Arreola took the Mentos and left the store.

Legal action?

According to The Washington Post, Arreola has retained an attorney and intends to seek damages from the Buena Park Police Department.

"The hardest thing for me was, believe it or not, it wasn't really the gun," Arreola told KCBS-TV. "It was his arrogance, his way of talking to me. ... He treated me like a piece of trash."

Buena Park Chief of Police Corey Sianez issued a statement on Facebook on Friday, after the video was made public.

"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," Sianez wrote.

"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," Sianez concluded.

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