Twitter user @TheHipsterRebbe, real name Ben Faulding, shared a scary story about how misplaced suspicion, miscommunication, and a pair of noise-cancelling headphones almost resulted in a deadly encounter while he was shopping.
Here’s a story about how I nearly just got killed by this cop. pic.twitter.com/3IYZFM9Ggh— Olivia Newton Bong (@TheHipsterRebbe) January 3, 2018
While shopping for conditioner for his "wild hair" (which was partially concealing his black noise-cancelling headphones), he went down an aisle only to be confronted by a Nassau County police officer, weapon-drawn. A second officer screamed at Ben to get on the ground, but Ben was confused... He had done nothing wrong, and could barely hear over his music.
“What is happening?!”— Olivia Newton Bong (@TheHipsterRebbe) January 3, 2018
I raised both hands with my right still holding the conditioner.
“JUST FOLLOW MY INSTRUCTIONS!”
He shouted back.
“Put your hands on the ground and move them forward”
Scared and confused, Ben followed instructions as best he could and asked the officers to remove the headphones for him, so he could continue to do so. "Last thing I wanted was some mild mistake to end my life. Like with Daniel Shaver," he wrote.
When he was shot.— Olivia Newton Bong (@TheHipsterRebbe) January 3, 2018
Daniel, was crawling when he was confronted by Mesa, Az police. He was murdered by an officer when he made a mistake while following instructions. pic.twitter.com/FmrycuOwCp
Ben recalls the recent shooting of Daniel Shaver, who was killed by police after a series of confusing instructions and the simple act of trying to pull up his pants. "A subconscious, small hand motion," Ben writes. "He probably didn’t even think about it. And it ended his life."
But the story gets scarrier: The store clerk had called the police because she believed Ben was shoplifting. Somehow, the officers were under the impression that it was an armed robbery. This miscommunication escalated the situation to a point that put Ben's life at risk.
When they came in, they were looking for somebody with a gun. That’s why theirs were drawn.— Olivia Newton Bong (@TheHipsterRebbe) January 3, 2018
The bottle of conditioner I picked out was white. What if I had picked the black bottle?
What if they had seen it wrong?
"What if my skin was darker?," Ben wonders. "What if the cops had been a little bit jumpy?"
Naturally, Ben is left with some questions about the incident. "But I really want to know what happened. How was there such a colossal failure in communication?"
He ended his tweet thread with an admission that blasting music "might not have been the smartest move," but that it shouldn't have mattered to begin with.
Listening to music on headphones so loud might not have been the smartest move, but it was almost deadly. And it shouldn’t have been.— Olivia Newton Bong (@TheHipsterRebbe) January 3, 2018
It's still unclear why the clerk thought Ben was shoplifting, why the cops thought it was an armed robbery, and how the situation even escalated to that point. Other Twitter users wondered if it hadn't been headphones as in this case, what if an innocent suspect was deaf and couldn't follow orders?
In the end, Ben says the cop was "really nice and apologetic after," but that "I don't think I owe him anything though. This was a huge f*** up that nearly killed me."
We're glad that everyone ended up okay this time, but it serves as a cautionary tale for the inevitable next time something like this happens.
Photo: @TheHipsterRebbe / via Twitter