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Video shows brawl with Target employee over refusal to wear masks

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Two men are facing felony battery charges after police said they assaulted a Target employee who confronted them about refusing to wear masks inside a Van Nuys store.

The fight took place at the store in the 5700 block of Sepulveda Boulevard about 10:20 a.m. May 1, said Officer Drake Madison, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Police Department.

The men, who were not wearing face coverings, entered the store and were confronted by employees, he said. When the customers refused to put masks on, an employee moved to escort them out, he said.

“As they approached the exit, one of the suspects suddenly and without provocation turned and punched the store employee, causing him and the suspect to fall to the floor,” Madison said.

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While they were on the ground, a scuffle took place, and the employee’s left arm was broken, Madison said. The second customer also joined in the brawl, struggling with two other Target employees as they tried to restrain him, surveillance video shows.

The worker was taken to a hospital and treated for his injuries.

The two suspects were arrested later that day on suspicion of felony battery, Madison said.

Police identified them as Phillip Hamilton, 31, and Paul Hamilton, 29. Both were initially held in lieu of $50,000 bail but were released from custody May 5, jail records show.

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A spokesman for Target called the incident “unfortunate” and said in a statement that the company’s top priority was the safety of its customers and employees.

“We’re grateful for the support of local police and we’ll provide any information that can be helpful to their investigation,” the statement said.

Customers patronizing essential businesses in the city of Los Angeles have been required to wear face coverings while inside stores since April 10, when Mayor Eric Garcetti issued an order requiring their use in a bid to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Los Angeles County officials issued a similar order that took effect April 15.


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