- Calvin Munerlyn, a Family Dollar security guard in Flint, MI., was shot and killed Friday after telling a customer she needed to wear a mask to shop in the store.
- Local authorities announced Monday that they had charged three people allegedly involved in the incident with premeditated first-degree murder. While one person was arrested, two are still at large.
- Tensions over mask policies also appear to exists outside of Michigan. In Stillwater, OK., city officials rolled back mask requirements just hours after enforcing the policy due to escalated threats of violence, including one shooting.
Michigan Guard Shot and Killed
Three people in Michigan were charged with first-degree murder on Monday after allegedly shooting and killing a security guard who told their family member they were required to wear a mask while shopping.
The incident occurred in Flint on Friday when Family Dollar security guard Calvin Munerlyn told a woman she needed to wear a face mask to stay in the store. Notably, that woman then left and went back to her car; however, her mother—who was wearing a face mask—remained inside the store.
The mother, later identified as Sharmel Teague, reportedly began yelling and even spitting at Munerlyn. Because of that, he asked the cashier not to serve her. She then stormed out of the store, got in her car, and drove off.
About 20 minutes later, prosecutors said that same car drove back into the parking lot. This time, Teague’s husband and son—Larry Teague and Ramonyea Bishop—reportedly get out of the car and walked into the store.
According to surveillance footage obtained by prosecutors, Larry Teague approached Munerlyn. Teague then started yelling at him, telling Munerlyn that he had disrespected his family members.
Prosecutors said Bishop pulled out a gun and shot Munerlyn in the back of the head, killing him.
Bishop, Larry Teague, and Sharmel Teague were all charged with premeditated first-degree murder on Monday.
While prosecutors said they found and arrested Sharmel Teague, both Bishop and Larry Teague are still at large.
Family and Friends Remember Munerlyn
Munerlyn was reportedly the father of eight children. On Sunday, his wife of 10 years grieved for his loss while speaking with local NBC affiliate WEYI.
“This just can’t be real. My babies need their daddy,” Latryna Sims Munerlyn said while in tears. “I’m just suffocating. I feel like a knife is in my chest.”
Also on Sunday, Munerlyn’s cousin, Tina James spoke with ABC affiliate WJRT, where she expressed a mixture of anger and grief.
“This was just senseless over a mask!” she said. “Over a mask! I don’t understand it.”
Later that night, family and friends gathered for a vigil at the Family Dollar where Munerlyn died to remember him.
On Monday, Genesee County commissioner Bryant Nolden called Munerlyn a longtime friend and said Munerlyn worked out at a local gym where Nolden serves as the director.
“This really broke my heart,” Nolden said. “He would come in three or four times a week and he’d train anyone who wanted to be trained for free. We have a senior dance, and he’d come and dance with the seniors.”
Genesee County prosecutor David Leyton suggested in a statement that he doesn’t believe Munerlyn acted out of conduct when interacting with Sharmel Teague and her daughter.
“From all indications, Mr. Munerlyn was simply doing his job in upholding the governor’s executive order related to the COVID-19 pandemic for the safety of store employees and customers,” Leyton said.
On April 24, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order requiring customers in businesses to wear face masks. Since then, there’s been a hefty amount of pushback against various parts of this order, but there’s no actual criminal penalty for breaking it. It mainly allows businesses to refuse service to anyone not wearing a mask.
However, Larry Teague has also been charged with a misdemeanor for breaking the executive order.
Stillwater, OK. Rolls Back Mask Mandate
Almost a thousand miles away on the same day that Munerlyn was murdered, Stillwater, Oklahoma enacted a new requirement forcing all customers and employees in local businesses to wear face masks.
Notably, that comes as the state begins reopening businesses like restaurants, gyms, and movie theaters; however, just three hours later, multiple businesses were reporting that their employees had faced not only verbal abuse but also violent threats when trying to enfore the policy.
One of those threats even reportedly included a shooting.
Later in the day, the city decided to roll back its mask mandate, instead encouraging—but not requiring—customers and employees to wear masks.
The announcement also came with a sharp rebuke from city manager Norman McNickle toward those threatening violence.
“The City of Stillwater has attempted to keep people safe by the simple requirement to wear a face covering to protect others,” McNickle said in a statement. “It is unfortunate and distressing that those who refuse and threaten violence are so self-absorbed as to not follow what is a simple show of respect and kindness to others.”
On Sunday Mayor Will Joyce told MSNBC that part of the decision to roll back the mandate came because Stillwater simply doesn’t have a big enough police force to deal with the number of violations it expected.
“It’s been a difficult issue for the last two weeks,” Joyce said. “We’ve had a strong encouragement in all of our orders for the last two weeks for everyone to wear face coverings while out in public even while we were under a shelter in place order. And sort of measuring that against the idea of trying to enforce a broader order, which is difficult, you know, we’re a small city. We don’t have the kind of police force that can go out and try to deal with every single one of the people who may not be willing to wear the mask.”
Similar to “no-shirt, no-shoes” policies, businesses in Stillwater are currently still able to make their own rules when it comes to the issue of requiring face coverings.
See what others are saying: (WEYI) (WJRT) (Detroit Free Press)
Biden to Mandate COVID Vaccines for Federal Workers as CDC Changes Masking Guidance
News of the efforts came on the same day that the U.S. reported more than 100,000 new daily COVID cases for the first time since February.
Federal Vaccine Mandate
President Joe Biden will announce Thursday that all federal employees must get vaccinated against COVID-19 or consent to strict testing and other safety precautions, White House officials told reporters Tuesday.
Earlier in the day, Biden said he was considering the requirement but did not provide any more information.
While the officials also said the details are still being hashed out, they did note that the policy would be similar to ones recently put in place by California and New York City, which respectively required state and city workers to get the jab or submit to regular testing.
Also on Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated their guidelines to recommend that Americans who live in areas “of substantial or high transmission,” as well as all students and teachers, wear masks indoors regardless of their vaccination status.
Delta Causes Spikes, But Vaccines Still Prove Effective
The renewed COVID mitigation efforts come as the delta variant is driving massive surges all over the country.
Coronavirus cases have quadrupled throughout July, jumping from a weekly average of 11,799 on the first day of the month to 63,248 on Tuesday, according to The New York Times tracker. Tuesday also saw new daily infections topping 100,000 for the first time since February, with more than 108,000 reported, per The Times.
While the vast majority of new infections are among people who have not been vaccinated, there have also been increasing reports of breakthrough cases in people who have received the jab.
Those cases, however, do not mean that the vaccines are not effective.
No vaccine prevents 100% of infections. Health officials have said time and time again that the jabs are intended to prevent severe disease and death, and they are doing just that.
According to the most recent data for July 19, the CDC reported that only 5,914 of the more than 161 million Americans who have gotten the vaccine were hospitalized or died from COVID-19 — a figure that represents 0.0036% of vaccinated people.
While safety precautions may be recommended for some people who have received the vaccine, many media narratives have overstated the role breakthrough cases play in the recent spikes. As New York Magazine explains, it is imperative to understand these new mask recommendations are not happening because the vaccine is not effective, but because not enough people are getting the vaccine.
“Because breakthrough infections have so often made the news due to their novelty, that can create a perception of more cases than are actually happening — particularly without more robust tracking of the actual cases to provide context,” the outlet wrote.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Times) (CNBC)
Wisconsin Police Deny Planting Evidence in Viral Video, Release Their Own Body Cam Footage
The footage police released shows that during a search, officers found a corner tear from a plastic bag inside a backseat passenger’s pocket. An officer then discarded it into the car after determining that it was empty.
Viral Video Appears To Show Officer Planting Evidence
The Caledonia Police Department in Wisconsin has responded to a viral cell phone video that appears to show an officer planting a small plastic baggie inside of a car during a traffic stop.
The now-viral footage was posted to Facebook by a man who goes by GlockBoy Savoo.
The user, who also filmed the clip, wrote in his post’s caption that the officer did this “just to get a reason to search the car” and said the cop didn’t know he was being recorded by the passenger.
Police Shut Down Accusations With Their Own Footage
After that video spread across social media, many were outraged, calling the Caledonia police dirty for seemingly planting evidence. All the outrage eventually prompted the department to announce an investigation Saturday.
Within hours, the department provided an update, claiming that officers didn’t actually plant any evidence or do anything illegal.
Police shared a lengthy summary of events, along with two body camera clips from the incident. That statement explained that the driver of the vehicle was pulled over for going 63 in a 45mph zone.
Two passengers in the backseat who were then spotted without seatbelts were asked to identify themselves and step out of the car. During a search of one passenger’s pockets, an officer pulled out “an empty corner tear” from a plastic baggie.
Police claim the corner tear did not contain any illegal substances, though they said this type of packaging is a common method for holding illegal drugs.
In one body cam clip, an officer can be heard briefly questioning the backseat passenger about the baggie. Then, that piece of plastic gets handed off to different officers who also determined it as empty before the officer in the original viral video discarded it into the back of the car.
The officer can also be seen explaining where the plastic came from to the passenger recording him.
“Aye, bro you just threw that in here!” the front seat passenger says, as heard in his version of the events.
“Yeah, cause it was in his pocket and I don’t want to hold onto it. It’s on their body cam that they took it off of him…I’m telling you where it came from, so. It’s an empty baggie at the moment too, so,” the officer replies.
The department went on to explain that while it would discourage officers from discarding items into a citizen’s car, this footage proves that evidence was not planted.
Authorities also noted that no arrests were made in this incident and the driver was the only one issued a citation for speeding. The statement added that since four officers were present at the scene, police have more than six hours of footage to review but they promised to release the footage in full in the near future.
See what others are saying: (Heavy)(CBS 58) (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
Medical Groups, Local Leaders Push for Healthcare Workers and Public Employees To Get Vaccinated
The move comes as COVID cases have nearly quadrupled in the last month due to the rapid spread of the highly infectious delta variant.
Increased Calls for Mandatory Vaccinations in Certain Sectors
More than 50 of America’s largest medical groups representing millions of healthcare workers issued a statement Monday calling for employers of all health and long-term care providers to require mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations.
The groups, which included the American Medical Association, the American Nurses Association, and 55 others, cited contagious new variants — including delta — and low vaccination rates.
“Vaccination is the primary way to put the pandemic behind us and avoid the return of stringent public health measures,” they wrote.
The call to action comes as new COVID cases have almost quadrupled during the month of July, jumping from just around 13,000 infections a day at the beginning of this month to more than 50,000.
While the vast majority of new infections and hospitalizations are among those who have not received the vaccines, many healthcare workers remain unvaccinated. According to data collected by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, over 38% of nursing home staff were not fully vaccinated as of July 11.
An analysis by WebMD and Medscape Medical News found that around 25% of hospital workers who were in contact with patients had not been vaccinated by the end of May when vaccinations became widely available.
In addition to calls for medical professionals to get vaccinated, some local leaders have also begun to impose mandates for public employees as cases continue spiking.
Last month, San Francisco announced that it was requiring all city workers to get vaccinated. Also on Monday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said that all municipal employees — including police officers and teachers — must either get the jab or agree to weekly testing by the time school starts in September.
Dr. Fauci Says U.S. Officials Are Considering Revising Mask Guidance for Vaccinated People
Numerous top U.S. health officials have applauded efforts by local leaders to mitigate further spread of the coronavirus, including the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who confirmed Sunday that federal officials are actively considering whether to revise federal masking guidelines to recommend that vaccinated Americans wear face coverings in public settings.
In May, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said people who are vaccinated do not need to mask in public. Although that was a non-binding recommendation, many states and cities that had not already lifted restrictions on masking began to do so shortly after.
But now, local leaders in areas seeing big spikes have begun reimposing mask mandates — even for those who are vaccinated — including major counties like Los Angeles and St. Louis.
In his remarks Sunday, Fauci also emphasized that, despite claims from many conservatives, those efforts are in line with the federal recommendations, which leave space for local leaders to issue their own rules.
While Fauci and other top U.S. public health officials have encouraged local governments to take action, Republican lawmakers in several states are taking steps to limit the ability of local leaders and public health officials to take certain mitigation measures.
According to the Network for Public Health Law, at least 15 state legislatures have passed or are considering bills to limit the legal authority of public health agencies — and that does not even include unilateral action taken by governors.
Some of the leaders of states suffering the biggest spikes have banned local officials from imposing their own mask mandates, like Arkansas, which has the highest per capita cases in the country right now, as well as Florida, which currently ranks third.
Notably, some of the laws proposed or passed by Republicans could go beyond just preventing local officials from trying to mitigate surges in COVID cases and may have major implications for other public health crises.
For example, according to The Washington Post, a North Dakota law that bans mask mandates applies to other breakouts — even tuberculosis — while a new Montana law also bars the use of quarantine for people who have been exposed to an infectious disease but have not yet tested positive.