A man in western Colorado was arrested and is facing a felony menacing charge, after two sheriff’s deputies say he pointed a banana at them. Self-proclaimed comedian, Nathen Channing, 27, thought it would be funny to make law enforcement go bananas. Depending on the source, descriptions of this incident range from comical to “life threatening.”
The banana bandit is a resident of Fruitvale. He was taken into custody on November 23, 2014, after pointing a banana at a pair of Mesa County Sheriff’s deputies. Both law enforcement officials claim they initially believed that the piece of fruit was a handgun.
Tensions in the area were already high, as the arrest for banana menacing took place one day before a grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri decided not to indict police officer Darren Wilson. In a widely criticized designation, Officer Wilson classified Michael Brown as “menacing” before he shot and killed him. Deputy Sheriffs Joshua Bunch and Donald Love, who mistook a banana for a handgun, are being criticized for overreacting, although some say that Channing got exactly what he deserved for antagonizing them. Both of them identified themselves as “victims” in the case against the menacing banana bandit.
In an arrest affidavit, Bunch wrote that he was driving northbound over the 29 Road bridge in Mesa County, when he noticed Channing walking on the sidewalk. According to Bunch, Channing “reached into the left side of his coat and pulled out a yellow object, pointing it into the air then in my direction as I approached him.” Bunch wrote that in response, he ducked and sped away, “Fearing it was a weapon.” He then radioed Love, who was traveling behind him, to warn his fellow deputy. As he returned to the area, Bunch reportedly witnessed Channing point the same object at Love.
As Deputy Love got out of his vehicle and approached Channing, he “observed what appeared to be a yellow tube with a black center,” but stated he “thought it was a gun.” Bunch wrote in his affidavit: “Deputy Love stated he was in fear for his life at this point and began to draw his service weapon when Nathen yelled, ‘It’s a banana!’” Deputy Bunch wrote: “based on training and experience, I have seen handguns in many shapes and colors and perceived this to be a handgun.”
After the banana menace identified his comedic tool of choice, the two deputies approached Channing and demanded an explanation. “Nathen stated he does a lot of ‘YouTube’ and thought it would be a ‘funny joke,’” Deputy Bunch wrote. “Nathen explained he did it to a friend who was also driving in the area and his friend thought it was funny.” Channing admitted this was a “trial run’ of the joke,” which was not being videotaped. Deputy Bunch wrote: “Nathen’s only explanation for pointing the banana at law enforcement was it was a joke … He thought it would, ‘lighten the holiday spirit.’”
Channing apologized to sheriff’s deputies, admitting that he “may have taken the joke too far.” They were unmoved and placed Channing under arrest. Deputy Bunch wrote in his affidavit: “Nathen, by physical action, knowingly placed Deputy Love and I in imminent fear by use of an article fashioned in the manner to cause us to reasonably believe it was a deadly weapon.” Instead of YouTube, the banana bandit might have to use his comedic talents to impress fellow inmates. Ironically, his mugshot depicts Channing donning banana-yellow prison garb. If convicted, he could receive one to three years in prison and a fine of between $1,000 and $100,000.