Man refused free face mask, was told to leave premises 5 times before use of force during incident at Cook’s Flea Market, sheriff says

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WARNING: This video contains strong language.

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — The Forsyth County sheriff says the viral video of a deputy using force on a man who was not wearing a face mask does not show the full picture of what happened.

Sheriff Bobby Kimbrough spoke during a Monday news conference and said he cannot release the bodycam video at this time per state statute but was able to show it in full to multiple community leaders and activists.

Winston-Salem Branch NAACP President Alvin Carlisle, Mt. Moriah Outreach Center Founder Bishop Todd Fulton, Winston-Salem Urban League President James Perry and community activist Al Jabbar spoke after Kimbrough, and all voiced their opinion that the use of force was justified.

“We’re satisfied that the officer did everything that he could to avoid an altercation with the subject,” Carlisle said. “We’re satisfied that the subject was given many opportunities to comply with the laws and standards that we all have to deal with during this COVID-19 crisis.”

Kimbrough said a customer was trying to get money from an ATM when he was confronted for not wearing a face mask.

A deputy was working an extra duty assignment at the flea market, which regularly employees deputies for security, according to the FCSO.

He was offered a free face mask, but he reportedly refused to wear it. The sheriff says the man never said he had any medical reason for not wearing a mask.

The deputy said that if he refuses to wear the mask, he must leave the premises. The man continued to refuse. The deputy reported that the man was only concerned about getting money from the ATM.

The sheriff says the man was asked to leave five times and repeatedly informed that he was trespassing before force was used to detain the man.

The person was charged with trespassing and resisting a public officer.

The deputy is continuing to work.

Cook’s Flea Market released the following statement to FOX8:

“On Saturday, June 27th, an individual at the flea market was asked repeatedly to comply with the statewide order making mask-wearing mandatory in public. After verbally refusing to put on a mask, the individual was asked by management multiple times to leave the property. When the individual declined to leave, a deputy sheriff providing security at the market was called to escort the individual to their vehicle and was subsequently charged with Trespassing and Resisting a Public Officer.”

The FCSO says the deputies role was the same as it is every time a deputy works at the flea market: to provide security to the flea market, including when the business management requests someone to leave, and to ensure they vacate the premises without undue delay. 

As with every incident that involves the use of force, supervision has reviewed the incident in its entirety to ensure the deputy acted appropriately given the scope of the situation, according to the FCSO.

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