O.C. sheriff’s deputy says ‘it’s stupid’ when called to enforce mask rules at Gelson’s
An Orange County sheriff’s deputy appeared to express sympathy for unmasked shoppers at a Gelson’s supermarket while also stating that the Minneapolis police officer who killed George Floyd was a “dummy,” not a murderer, according to a video livestreamed on Facebook.
The deputy, who wore a name tag reading “P. Medeiros,” was maskless himself when he arrived at the supermarket in Dana Point on Tuesday in response to a call from employees about the unmasked group.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Department will begin a personnel investigation into the incident, said spokeswoman Carrie Braun.
“The opinions expressed by the deputy are his personal opinion, and are not representative of the opinions of the department or the sheriff,” Braun said in an email.
Braun did not identify the deputy but noted that “his name tag is clearly visible in the video.” She said he will remain on duty during the investigation.
Department policy requires that employees wear face coverings at work when they are not able to maintain six feet of distance, she said.
Transparent California, a public pay database, shows that a deputy named Patrick Medeiros works for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.
A woman identified on Facebook as Micare Filipcik streamed the video, saying she and some friends had stopped by to grab a few items after eating dinner at a nearby vegan restaurant.
Supermarket employees told them they needed to wear masks and called law enforcement when they refused, Filipcik said in the 17-minute video, wearing a hat that said “lions not sheep.”
“How sad of a world that he has to call the cops because we’re not wearing a cloth over our mouth?” she said, adding, “Oh, scary, scary germs!”
Filipcik and her friends continued to shop, paying for apples, oranges and coffee creamer.
As they were leaving, the maskless sheriff’s deputy arrived.
“They have every right to say you can’t come in here,” he said of the store employees.
After someone interrupted and said he was wrong, he responded, “I was about to say … this is absolutely stupid.”
During a discussion about whether the shoppers had violated the law, the deputy said, shaking his head, “It’s company policy.”
A maskless man said, “They’re doing it wrong.”
“I agree with you. I think it’s stupid,” the deputy responded.
Later, a woman asked, “What did you think of the verdict today?”
Earlier Tuesday, former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder and manslaughter after kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes. Floyd had gasped, “I can’t breathe” and called out for his mother while Chauvin continued to press down on his neck.
Chauvin was “a dummy, but murderer? No,” Medeiros responded in the video, which has since been removed from Filipcik’s Facebook page.
“That’s what they [all] do,” he continued. “They scream and cry — ‘Oh, I can’t breathe, oh, you’re hurting me.’ ”
At the end of the encounter, Filipcik and her friends walked away. Another maskless deputy was captured in the video standing nearby. It is unclear whether the deputies issued any citations.
Shortly after Floyd’s killing in May, Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes released a statement condemning Chauvin and three other officers present.
“The death of George Floyd was wrong,” Barnes wrote. “Clearly what occurred goes beyond any tactic we are trained to use.”
In an Instagram message, Filipcik declined to comment.
“After speaking to my good friend, Donald Trump, it’s a hard no,” she wrote. “Staying far away from the fake press.”
Shoppers without masks try to enter the Dana Point supermarket about once a week, but it’s usually just an oversight, a Gelson’s spokesperson said in an email.
This was the first time employees at the store encountered a group of maskless shoppers, the spokesperson added.
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