Handcuffs on the ground in Bordeaux during a protest called by police unions. NICOLAS TUCAT / AFP
Five days after being wrongfully detained by a maskless police officer, a Virginia man tested positive for COVID-19.
Jamar Mackey was eating with his family in a mall food court when officers approached him and handcuffed him before telling him why.
The department has since apologized, but Mackey’s fiancée is speaking publicly about his positive test, and her anger that the officers put their family at risk.
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The story of a Black man in Virginia who was wrongfully detained by a maskless police officer while eating at a mall food court with his family garnered national attention last weekend when a video of the incident was published online.
Days later, Jamar Mackey’s fiancée has told the local news station WAVY-TV that he has tested positive for the coronavirus.
“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,” Mackey’s fiancée, Shantel Covil told the station.
Mackey was handcuffed in front of Covil and their two children at a Virginia Beach food court in Lynnhaven Mall on Dec. 19. Officers walked the man out of the mall without giving him an explanation.
The department later admitted they misidentified Mackey for a suspect they were looking for.
“We got a description of someone that was using stolen credit cards, OK. That person is a Black male with dreads and was wearing all black and was with a boy that was wearing red,” an officer says in the video.
The Virginia Beach Police Department said it launched an investigation into the incident and WAVY-TV reported the local NAACP chapter released a statement on Sunday criticizing law enforcement’s handling of the situation.
Virginia Beach Police Chief Paul Neudigate apologized to Mackey.
“Once again, right or wrong, we have to be able to apologize when our actions greatly inconvenience a member of the community that we serve,” he said in a press conference. “So let me take this opportunity to personally extend my apology to Mr. Mackey for this incident.”
The chief also noted that all officers at the scene should have been wearing a face covering.
“It will be addressed,” Neudigate said. “We are required to wear masks. We set the standard, we set an example for our community.”
Covil told the local NBC News affiliate that Mackey tested positive for the coronavirus on Christmas Eve and is quarantined at home with mild symptoms, including a fever, cough and sore throat.
She said she believes Mackey was exposed during the incident at the mall, though it hasn’t been confirmed.
Covil tested negative, but she is keeping an eye on their teenage son and 2-month-old.
“Just talking about it, it makes me upset because I have an infant,” Covil told WAVY-TV. “And when he got his results, he cried because – I’m sorry Jamar, we sleep with our infant every night – I’m so sorry… He’s around the baby all the time, so you know infants can get COVID, so that’s the first thing we thought about.”
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