A father and his two children were escorted out of a Walmart by Turlock Police Department officers following a dispute over wearing face masks, according to a shopper who witnessed the incident and captured a portion of it on video.
“As I followed a little bit and turned on my video, and I realized it was a father and two kids,” the shopper, Bobbie Carne, told KTLA sister station KTXL in Sacramento. “He was yelling. He was upset and behind him following him were three police officers from Turlock.”
“Come to find out, it was because his kids did not have a mask on,” she said.
Last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that Californians are now required to wear masks indoors and outside when social distancing is not an option to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as the number of cases throughout the state continues to rise.
Turlock Police Chief Nino Amirfar posted a video online in response to the incident, addressing his officer’s response and reassuring the public his department will not issue citations.
“Nor are we going to respond to businesses simply because someone is not wearing a mask. However, if that business refuses to serve you and asks you to leave, you should leave,” said Amirfar.
A Walmart spokesperson issued a statement in response to the incident.
“Maintaining customer and associate safety remains our top priority,” the statement read. “We encourage customers to be especially mindful of one another during this unprecedented time and adhere to recommendations and guidance that we all use face coverings in public places.”
Carne says things could have been handled differently by management at the store and is using the video to inform others.
“Wear a mask, which I have mine, and if you don’t then you can’t come in. And I get it,” said Carne.
In Amirfar’s Facebook video, he says officers responded because the business asked that they come out for trespassing concerns.
He went on to say he hopes everyone can work together during this time to help stop the spread of COVID-19.