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Illustration by Security Management

Security Officer Killed After Altercation Enforcing Face Covering Order

On Friday, 1 May, Calvin Munerlyn, working security at a Family Dollar in Flint, Michigan, was shot and killed while on the job. According to Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton, Sharmel Teague and her adult daughter (who has not been named by authorities or in the media) entered the Family Dollar Friday afternoon. Teague was wearing a face mask, but her daughter was not, and Munerlyn informed her that the store was enforcing Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s order that anyone in a public, enclosed space must wear a mask. Leyton said witnesses reported that Teague yelled at Munerlyn while her daughter left the store. Munerlyn told Teague to leave the store and instructed a cashier not to serve her.

Approximately 20 minutes later, video surveillance shows Teague return with her husband, Larry Teague, and her son, Ramonyea Bishop. According to Leyton, witnesses report that in the store Larry Teague began yelling at Munerlyn and Bishop shot Munerlyn in the head. Sharmel and Larry Teague and Bishop are charged with first-degree murder, and Larry Teague is also being charged with violating the governor’s executive order mandating face coverings. As of Monday news reports, Sharmel was in custody and the other two had not been apprehended yet.

Eddie Sorrells, CPP, PSP, PCI, chief operating officer and general counsel at DSI Security Services, whose knowledge about the incident is limited to publicly available media reports, said, “By all accounts, it looks like a security officer was enforcing the PPE requirement for the store he worked at, which was ordered by the governor, and he was tragically killed for doing his job.”

Michigan is not the only state to require face coverings in stores. Maine, Massachusetts, and Illinois are among several states where governors have announced orders similar to Michigan’s order. Other states, such as Missouri, have promoted the use of face masks, but not required them—including Ohio Governor Mike DeWine who issued an order requiring face masks only to rescind it days later.

Two weeks ago, in an online exclusive article, ASIS’s Security Management magazine discussed some of the strains and new conditions the pandemic had placed on security service firms.

“This incident once again illustrates that security officers are on the front lines and being asked to do things that are not only vital to the security of the businesses they serve, but the health and safety of the public at large,” Sorrells said. “This is all uncharted territory, where a security officer is being asked to enforce PPE for the general public. Officers are being asked to perform services they have not been asked to perform before.”

In addition to the article above, Sorrells is part of a webinar later today (5 May 2020) on Security on the Front Lines: Evolving Legal Issues. The webinar, part of the ASIS-SIA COVID-19 Response Partnership, will be available for on-demand viewing early this evening.

Other recent ASIS and Security Management articles on violence and crime related to the pandemic include: