Jose Arreola, 49, put the $1.19 roll of Mentos he’d just purchased at a Southern California gas station in his pocket.
That’s when the printer from Bellflower, Calif., found himself at gunpoint March 16 after a fellow customer, an off-duty police officer, accused him of stealing the candy, reported The Orange County Register.
A store surveillance video captured the incident, which Buena Park, Calif., police are investigating.
“It’s been a month and I still can’t shake it,” Arreola told the publication. “I thought my wife could be a widow.”
Arreola had stopped at the Chevron station for some cash on the way to a club at 10 p.m. March 16, he told the Register. His wife asked him to buy her a pack of Mentos, too.
In the video, the off-duty officer enters the gas station mini-mart and gets in line behind Arreola as he puts the mints in his jacket pocket while waiting for his change from the clerk.
“Hey, put that back,” the officer says. “Police officer.”
Arreola, confused, turns to face the man, who pulls a pistol from his pocket and holds it ready.
“Oh! I paid for it,” a shocked Arreola says. The officer continues to demand that Arreola return the mints while holding the gun as Arreola insists he paid for the candy and looks to the clerk for help.
Arreola, flustered, puts the mints and change on the counter as the clerk remains silent.
“Try stealing that again,” the officer taunts him. “Get your cash and leave.”
The clerk hands Arreola the rest of his change. Arreola backs toward the door with his hands up.
“Did he pay for this?” the officer, who seems perplexed, asks the clerk, who says yes. “He paid for it? Are you sure?” The clerk confirms that Arreola purchased the candy.
“My apologies,” the officer says to Arreola, returning his gun to his pocket. Arreola picks up his mints from the counter and leaves.
"It made me mad,” Arreola told KABC. “At the same time, it scared me because I thought he could shoot me."
In a post Friday on Facebook, Buena Park Police Chief Corey Sianez said the incident, which involved an off-duty officer from his department, remains under 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,” Sianez wrote. He promised the officer will face discipline if found guilty of violating department policy.
Arreola told KCBS that the officer treated him "like a piece of trash" but said he doesn't want him fired, just given 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,” Arreola told the station.