A Black man who was wrongfully detained by a Virginia police sergeant earlier this month as he sat in a food court with his family has tested positive for COVID-19, according to his fiancée.
The incident, filmed by Jamar Mackey’s fiancée Shantel Covil, shows Mackey being placed in handcuffs by a maskless Virginia sergeant as the couple ate with their two children on Dec. 19 at the food court of Lynnhaven Mall in Virginia Beach.
Five days later, on Christmas Eve, Mackey received a positive COVID-19 test. Covil told WAVY-TV that Mackey took a test as a precaution on Dec. 22 and that he is isolated at home experiencing mild symptoms like “low grade fever, a cough, and a sore throat.”
Covil, as well as the couple’s two children, a 13-year-old boy and a baby, have also been tested for the virus but have not yet received the results.
“I’m very angry that they put my family at risk. Me and Jamar, that’s one thing but our kids, that’s what upsets me the most,” Covil said. She expressed concern about the safety of the couple’s eight-week-old infant.
In the video, the officer is seen telling Mackey, “I just want to talk to you, OK?” as he places him in handcuffs.
“In front of my family?” Mackey asked.
“What did he do?” Covil questioned.
When the sergeant mentioned that they were looking for a suspect in a black truck, Covil mentioned that the couple didn’t have a black truck.
The sergeant instructed Mackey to stand up, then led him through the food court and outside, where he was met by other maskless officers.
Outside, Mackey insisted that he was not the suspect police were after. Police ultimately released Mackey after another officer confirmed via radio that he was the wrong person.
After taking of his handcuffs the sergeant told Mackey that he matched the description of a credit card fraud suspect with dreadlocks who was wearing all Black.
“I sincerely apologize. It was a complete misunderstanding,” the sergeant told Mackey.
“They arrested him, of course, no gloves, no masks. They took us out of our bubble, out of our safe space,” said Covil. “We are around each other all the time.”
At a press conference on Dec. 21, Virginia Beach Police Department Chief Paul Neudigate said officers are required to wear face masks, and said the issue would be addressed.
“There is a requirement. We are required to wear masks. We set the standard, we set an example for our community.”
Due to health privacy laws, the police department could not confirm whether any of the officers involved have tested positive for COVID-19.
Another person has been charged in connection with the credit card fraud.
An internal review is looking at the case to see if the officers’ actions were justified, and Mackey and his attorney are looking into legal action against the police department.