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Police Ask for Help to Identify Man Who Shoved Employee Over Face Mask

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Cedar Hill police are looking for a man seen on surveillance video shoving a retail worker over her attempt to enforce a face mask policy.

The police department released footage of the incident, which took place June 6 at the My Eyelab store in Cedar Hill. The video shows a man shoving an employee to the ground.

6/6/20, 09:52 a.m., Cedar Hill, Texas

On Saturday, June 6, 2020, at approximately 09:52 a.m., the suspect in the yellow shirt entered a local business with a policy requiring patrons to wear a mask due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Upon entry, the suspect was asked to wait outside the business where an employee would assist him. The suspect refused and used profane language towards employees. When an employee demanded the suspect leave, the suspect assaulted the employee causing injury. Witnesses to the assault reported the suspect left the location driving a red sports car.Anyone having information leading to the identity of the suspect is asked to contact Detective Woodall at the Cedar Hill Police Department at972-291-5181 ext. 2169.

Posted by Cedar Hill Police Department on Friday, June 12, 2020

“The violence he displays in response to something as minor as being asked to put on a mask is what’s concerning,” Cedar Hill police Sgt. Chad Cooley said.

The customer walks in and a clerk is seen pointing to the door as she speaks to him. There is no audio on video recording, but police said the clerks reported the man refused to put on a mask.

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“Their current policy requires that customers wear a mask when they enter,” Cooley said. “When he initially enters the store, the employee confronts him.”

The clerk told police she offered to assist him outside if he didn’t want to wear a mask, but the man refused again.

“At that point is when the employee tells him he needs to go ahead and leave and that’s when he ends up shoving her,” Cooley said.

Signs on the doors at the store ask customers to wear masks. My Eyelab also published a message on its website, dated May 26, asking customers to bring and wear their own masks. The company said staff would also wear masks.

Police said paramedics checked the woman for injuries on scene. Aside from bumps and bruises, she will be OK.

The man left in a red car. Police said cameras did not catch his license plate number.

If identified, police said the man faces a misdemeanor assault charge.

During COVID-19, stories about retail workers reporting abuses by customers have made headlines.

This is one of at least two similar incidents in Texas in about a week. Saturday, Austin police said they arrested a man accused of spitting on a Walgreens employee who attempted to enforce a social distancing rule.

Dr. James Pinckney, a family medicine physician with Diamond Physicians, said some frustration may be born out of changing recommendations and mixed messages since the pandemic set in.

“If everyone wore a mask, I think we could reopen our economy safely and really move toward resolution of this terrible pandemic.”

Dr. James Pinckney, Diamond Physicians

“There’s a lot of confusion and back and forth: should we wear a mask, should we not wear a mask?” Pinckney said in reference to the evolving guidelines from the World Health Organization, CDC and other health officials.

Early in the COVID-19 crisis, initial recommendations suggested masks should be reserved for health care workers and that people who weren’t sick didn’t need to wear them.

Then, health officials reported masks were integral to limiting the spread, but the government didn't require them.

Pinckney said his recommendation was to wear a mask, even a homemade mask, in public.

“If you cover your face, the amount of respiratory droplets and potential viral particles that are going into the air are reduced,” he said. “If everyone wore a mask, I think we could reopen our economy safely and really move toward resolution of this terrible pandemic.”

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