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Coronavirus Latest: Muslim Health Care Worker Tasered By L.A. Mart Guard For Not Removing Face Covering, CAIR Says

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- CAIR is asking the Howard County Police to investigate the circumstances that led to a store security guard at L.A. Mart to Taser a man who wore a face covering while shopping for groceries earlier this month.

According to The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the man of Tunisian heritage is a healthcare worker who worked with COVID-19 positive patients.

When he entered the store on April 4, a security guard approached him and asked him to remove his face covering. The shopper removed the face covering to show the guard who he was, a regular customer that's known to the store, then replaced the mask. He also asked the guard to move back so they could follow social distancing guidelines, CAIR says.


The guard then insisted the man remove the face covering or he'd be denied the right to shop. The shopper declined saying he had the right to protect himself and other shoppers and proceeding to continue to get groceries.

When the man got to the checkout counter to pay for his items, the security guard again allegedly confronted him and Tasered him as the man stepped away to leave.

When the shopper fell down in shock and pain, the guard allegedly pinned him down and restrained him and then escorted him to an enclosed office space.

Police were called as well as the paramedics and the man was evaluated and cleared for release.

"This individual is a hero providing an essential service during this pandemic, yet he was disrespected, attacked and humiliated as if he were a criminal. This ordeal has traumatized him and has had a profound effect on his wife and children," said CAIR's Director of Maryland Outreach Zainab Chaudry. "His experience underscores why too many people of color are uncomfortable or reluctant to wear personal protective gear like face masks in public for fear of being profiled and attacked. We urge law enforcement to promptly investigate the circumstances of this incident, restore some measure of dignity, and help deliver justice for him and his family."

"This incident is carved in my mind," the shopper said in a statement provided by CAIR. "[I am] still waking up in the middle of the night with nightmares screaming and crying. My family noticed the change in my behavior also. My daughter and my son are still crying and my daughter was crying in my arms yesterday saying, 'I want my Dad back'. All I want from this horrifying incident is justice for me and my family. All I want is that after me nobody and no human being should go through what I went through."

CAIR notes that there have been other incidents where people have been harassed while wearing a face mask in public.

"Our client was violently attacked for simply trying to protect himself and the public from the coronavirus," said Attorney David Muncy of Plaxen and Adler Law Firm, who is providing legal representation. "The actions of the L.A. Mart guard were reprehensible and cannot be tolerated. We will fight to obtain justice for him and his family and look forward to holding this company responsible for the harm they have caused."

For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department's website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ's coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

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