CRIME, POLICE + COURTS

Utah man charged with assault following a face mask disagreement

Oct 9, 2020, 10:51 AM

Face coverings...

A Utah man is being charged following a fight over a face mask. Jonathan Crocker is facing a misdemeanor assault charge after the incident inside a Cafe Rio last month. (PHOTO: Credit Getty Images)

(PHOTO: Credit Getty Images)

COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS, Utah — A Utah man is facing charges following a fight over a face mask. Police say that man punched another customer in the face inside a Cafe Rio in Cottonwood Heights.

According to charging documents filed in Salt Lake County Justice Court, Jonathan Crocker, 38, faces a misdemeanor assault charge related to the incident last month. 

Utah man involved in face mask confrontation

In a probable cause statement signed by Det. S. Warenski of the Unified Police Department, witnesses told police Crocker drove to the side of the restaurant, and then left his car door open and ran inside to get his to-go order.

A witness told investigators employees told Crocker to wait outside because his order was not ready yet; they also pointed out his lack of face covering. According to the affidavit, the witness heard Crocker refuse to go outside or put on a mask, despite repeated requests. 

Another customer told police he came up to Crocker and asked him to go outside and close his car door. 

Crocker then reportedly told the other customer to “mind his own business” and punched him in the face.  

Warenski wrote in the probable cause statement that Officer Juan Solaresmejia responded to the Cafe Rio to investigate the dustup, where he observed blood in the customer’s mouth, and the customer showed him a cut inside his left cheek. 

Feeling harassed

Later, Warenski writes Crocker called dispatch himself and asked for an officer to call him. The same officer, Solaresmejia, responded to that call. Crocker denied punching the customer and claimed he felt he was being harassed for not wearing a mask.

Court documents list no attorney for Crocker. The court set an arraignment date for January 2021. 

Salt Lake County has a mask mandate in place through the end of the year. The mandate requires everyone in Salt Lake County to wear face coverings in businesses and in public spaces where social distancing is not possible.

“We recognize that until we have a vaccine we need to continue to battle COVID-19,” Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson said at the time of the extension. “We now have the tools to do so until the end of the year, and I think the mask requirement will help us.”

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Utah man charged with assault following a face mask disagreement