Man was responding to masking rules in the store
A male Costco shopper in Calgary has been convicted with multiple assault charges for his response to the mask use policy inside the store, according to a report.
Gerald Kitchen, who represented himself at trial, was charged with four counts of assault and one count of resisting arrest related to a series of altercations at the 32nd Street N.E. business in November 2020.
On the day of the incident, Kitchen forcefully shoved store employees and punched a female police officer in the face, reported Calgary Herald. COVID-19 protocols were in place that day.
A female employee asked Kitchen to adjust his mask upon entering the store and Kitchen pulled his mask over his nose before turning away and lowering it moments later.
When asked a third time, Kitchen removed his mask and shouted inches away from the female employee “For this fake f—ing virus?” before shoving the employee with both hands into some pallets. A store manager came over but Kitchen forcefully shoved him too.
Kitchen then confronted a third employee, saying “Are you afraid I’m going to give you the fake virus?” and pushed him backward before leaving the store.
After leaving the store, Kitchen was intercepted by a female constable in a marked cruiser. Kitchen walked away and the officer placed a hand on his shoulder and told him he was under arrest for assault.
Kitchen then swung around and struck the officer in the face with a closed fist, according to witnesses.
Then, the store manager helped the officer wrestle Kitchen to the ground and handcuff him.
“Masking in public, in combination with handwashing and physical distancing, is still one of the best ways we can protect ourselves and others against COVID-19, especially our most vulnerable community members as countries race to vaccinate their populations,” according to several groups that launched World Mask Week 2021 in July.
During the hearing, Kitchen said he was “getting really steamed” as the store manager followed him into an adjacent parking lot, but asserted he voluntarily surrendered to the officer.
He also denied shoving any of the employees, saying he went to the cashier with his cart and left.
“The whole thing, he alleges, is a total conspiracy and frame-up, and he was unfairly targeted,” according to the decision written by Provincial Court judge Cheryl Daniel, who claimed the only thing fake was Kitchen’s defence. “His denials are not remotely believable.”
Much of Kitchen’s “patently absurd” defence was based on “a multitude of conspiracy theories,” including that his arrest was in response to an email he sent to a federal MP, she said.
Kitchen also repeatedly argued that audio and video footage of the altercation had been doctored, with police actors inserted, and that some of the witnesses were police plants who lied about their identities and involvement, according to the decision, according to the Calgary Herald report.
“Essentially, the accused alleged that the witnesses, police and Crown were all corrupt, that he was completely innocent, and that he was being unfairly framed because he had targeted certain politicians with complaints and demands,” Daniel wrote.
Previously, a hostile customer at a Calgary bar was found guilty of assault for coughing at one of the establishment’s employees.