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Man faces charges over Livonia mask confrontation, spitting

James David Dickson
The Detroit News

Livonia — A 49-year-old man faces two felony charges after allegedly spitting on and insulting a man who confronted him at a Livonia gas station about not wearing a mask, authorities said Monday.

The confrontation between Brian Brown and the victim took place Aug. 6 at the Exxon gas station at 13801 Merriman, said Lt. Charles Lister of the Livonia Police Department.

Police say a 56-year-old man confronted Brown about the man not wearing a mask, which are required at businesses by executive order of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

The younger man allegedly spat in the victim's face and spoke "racial epithets" about the victim, who is white. The suspect is black.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy authorized two charges against Brown: ethnic intimidation and assault.

Lister said it's "customary" for Livonia police to send someone facing charges a notice that they have to come be booked and arraigned. If they do not hear back, they "make other arrangements" to ensure a suspect's presence.

In Michigan, several confrontations about COVID-era mask-wearing have resulted in violence.

Calvin Munerlyn, a 43-year-old security guard at a Flint dollar store, was killed in May after denying a woman entry to the store because she wasn't wearing a mask.

In July, Sean Ruiz, 43, was shot by an Eaton County deputy after allegedly stabbing a 77-year-old man who confronted him about not wearing a mask and who then confronted the officer with a knife.

The U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention advised retail workers last month to avoid confrontations with people who aren't wearing masks.