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Iowa man gets 10 years prison for assaulting man who asked him to pull COVID-19 mask over his nose

Some commuters at Union Station adorn breathing masks. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times/TNS)
June 14, 2021

A man convicted of assaulting an individual who had asked him to raise his COVID-19 mask over his nose in November was sentenced on Wednesday to 10 years in prison, the Des Moines Register reported.

Shane Wayne Michael, 42, of Saylor Township, Iowa, was arrested following the attack at Vision 4 Less eyewear at 3945 Merle Hay Road in Des Moines. According to the criminal complaint, Michael followed Mark Dinning out of the store after he had asked Michael to correct his mask, which was resting below his nose, the Iowa Capital Dispatch reported.

First, the pair “exchanged words,” a police report said, but then the conflict turned physical. Michael claimed that Dinning shoulder-checked him into a car and shoved his thumb into Michael’s abdomen. In an act of self-defense, Michael said he held Dinning on the ground, at which point he bit Michael’s arm, prompting Michel to shove his finger into Dinning’s left eye.

Dinning’s story conflicted with Michael’s; he claimed that Michael cornered him at his car, assaulted him and took him to the ground. While on the ground, Michael gouged Dinning’s eyes and knelt on his genitals, at which point Dinning bit Michael in self-defense.

Dinning also claimed that Michael coughed in his face, spit on him and said, “If I have it, you have it.”

Three witnesses to the incident said Michael caused the fight, according to the report, and a jury subsequently convicted Michael of willful injury causing serious injury.

Dennis Michael, Michael’s father, criticized the sentence and scoffed at Dinning’s injuries. “It’s like [Dinning] got a black eye in a bar fight, and now my son is getting 10 years in prison,” he said to the Iowa Capital Dispatch.

The elder Michael also asserted that his son had acted in self-defense and had not committed a crime, adding that Michael has asthma “and so he’s not going to cover his nose and mouth because he can’t breathe. And there was no mask mandate in place. It was just a request by Vision 4 Less that people wear a mask, and he was.”

Michael’s wife, Becky, said she and her husband have six adult children together, and she doesn’t know how she is going to manage while he’s in prison.

“He’s my rock, he’s my protector,” she said. “I don’t know what I’m going to do without him. I’m lost without him.”

Earlier this month, emails from public health official Dr. Anthony Fauci written early on in the pandemic reiterated the expert’s early opinion on the efficacy of masks. He wrote, “Masks are really for infected people to prevent them from spreading infection to people who are not infected rather than protecting uninfected people from acquiring infection.”

“The typical mask you buy in the drug store is not really effective in keeping out virus, which is small enough to pass through material. It might, however, provide some slight benefit in keep out gross droplets if someone coughs or sneezes on you,” Fauci continued, adding, “I do not recommend that you wear a mask, particularly since you are going to a very low risk location.”

While Fauci has claimed his changing opinion on masks was due to evolving science, the public health officials has yet to explain to what changes he is referring.