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Salt Lake woman angry at being told to wear a mask punched customer, police say

SHARE Salt Lake woman angry at being told to wear a mask punched customer, police say
Police officers investigate after an alleged armed robber was shot dead by police after driving off with a West Jordan Patrol vehicle on Monday, May 28, 2018.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

WEST JORDAN — A Salt Lake woman faces criminal charges accusing her of punching a customer at a tanning salon and then resisting arrest when officers arrived after police say she initially refused to wear a mask.

Breana Caitlynn Powers, 23, was charged Monday in West Jordan Justice Court with assault, and interfering with an arresting police officer, both class B misdemeanors; and disorderly conduct, an infraction.

Powers went to Beaches Tanning Center, 7850 S. Redwood Road, on Sunday but did not have a mask, said West Jordan Police Sgt. JC Holt. Employees told her she could not be in the business without a mask. And after some “words were exchanged,” Powers left the business, Holt said.

She came back later with a mask, but she still had words for the employees, Holt said. Powers essentially told the employees that they could not force their political views on her, while employees told her they were following state health department rules so they wouldn’t be shut down, according to police.

Both sides admitted they got “mouthy,” Holt said, exchanging swear words with each other. The employees told the woman to leave their business. The argument became heated enough that other customers of the tanning center tried to intervene. One man put his hand on Powers’ shoulder as he tried to lead her to the door, and Powers responded by punching or slapping the man in the throat, according to the sergeant.

After the employees got Powers outside the business, they locked the doors behind her, Holt said. Powers called police claiming she had been assaulted.

But after officers arrived and began interviewing witnesses and looking at surveillance video from the business, they determined the only assault that took place was when Powers punched the customer, Holt said.

“She just was the agitator in this whole thing,” he said.

When police informed Powers that she would be getting a citation, she allegedly became upset with the officers.

“She was mad at police because she claimed she was assaulted,” Holt said.

The officers explained to her that she needed to sign a citation accusing her of simple assault and she would then be free to go. But Holt said she refused to sign it, and officers explained that if she did not sign the citation she would be taken to jail.

After still refusing to sign the citation, an officer attempted to place handcuffs on her, Holt said, adding that Powers resisted and officers had to use more force to handcuff her.

A supervisor was called to the scene who explained to Powers that the situation was not an admittance of guilt and that she would have a chance to argue her side in court. After Powers calmed down, she agreed to sign the citation and police did not take her to jail, but Holt said she was still angry at officers.

Powers is already scheduled to be in court on Thursday in another case in which she is charged with aggravated assault, a third-degree felony, and failing to remain at the scene of a crash involving injury, a class A misdemeanor.

On Jan. 18, 2020, Powers hit a parked car while backing out of a parking space near 2640 W. 9000 South, according to charging documents. The owner of the car that was hit was sitting in her vehicle and got out to talk to Powers, but she allegedly took off.

Powers went to the parking lot of another nearby business. As the car owner approached her, Powers put her car in reverse again and drove “at a high rate of speed” toward the woman, the charges state. The woman started screaming and running to avoid being hit, according to the charges.

In 2016, Powers was convicted of interfering with an arresting officer in Taylorsville Justice Court. In 2017, she pleaded no contest to disorderly conduct, taking a plea in abeyance to the charge which was later dismissed, according to court records.

Other police departments have also reported problems with people refusing to wear masks.

American Fork police on Monday issued a statement on their Facebook page saying they “have recently had a few incidents” in which a person has refused to wear a mask inside a business.

While the department said its officers are not enforcing any type of “mask order,” they are respecting a business’ right to refuse service to anyone not wearing a mask.

“Regardless of anyone’s opinion on mask-wearing, at the end of the day, a property/business owner — or government leader tasked with managing government property — has the final say in what occurs on the property. If a property/business owner or government leader requests that a patron wear a mask or leave, and that patron refuses to do either, then that person is trespassing,” the department said in the post.

The police department encouraged the public to be “patient and understanding” during these challenging times and to work together to reach amicable resolutions.

“If you are unable to comply, please leave the premises peaceably before a police response is requested. As a department, we often find ourselves thrust into the middle of these types of disputes in which we have no say in the matter other than to respect the property owner’s wishes.”