An Iowa man has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for physically attacking another man during a dispute over wearing a face covering correctly in November.
Shane Wayne Michael, 42, was convicted in May of willful injury causing serious injury; he was sentenced on June 9, the Des Moines Register reported. The assault occurred after another customer at an eyewear store told Michael to wear his face mask properly. He was wearing it slightly below his nose.
Mark Dinning, the other customer, reportedly exchanged words with Michael before they left the store. He said that Michael followed him to the parking lot and started attacking him.
Dinning maintained that they both fell to the ground and Michael poked him in the eye, to which Dinning responded with a bite to his arm. He said that Michael then kneed him in the groin several times, then pulled down his mask, spitting and coughing on him.
Michael then allegedly yelled, “If I have it, you have it!” apparently referring to the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, which causes COVID-19.
According to Michael, it was Dinning who started the fight by first shoulder-checking him and poking him in the abdomen after they had left the store. He asserted that then they grappled and fell to the ground, during which Michael held Dinning to the ground. When Dinning started biting his arm, he responded by jabbing his finger into Dinning’s eye.
Dennis Michael, Shane’s father, told the Iowa Capital Dispatch that his son was acting in self-defense and was innocent, noting that Michael has asthma.
“And so he’s not going to cover his nose and mouth because he can’t breathe,” Dennis Michael said. “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.”
The elder Michael believes that the sentence isn’t proportional to the incident.
“It’s like [Dinning] got a black eye in a bar fight, and now, my son is getting 10 years in prison,” he said.
In a Facebook post, Dinning said that as a result of the fight, he almost lost his eye.