News

Asda shopper pinned to ground and handcuffed by police in mask-wearing row

An Asda shopper was pinned to the ground and handcuffed during a heated row over how he wore his mask.

Ryan Farrell was arrested on Tuesday afternoon after finishing his shopping at the supermarket in Birkenhead, Merseyside.

The 27-year-old was leaving the store but stopped at the kiosk to buy tobacco when he was first told to fix his mask.

He said the incident then escalated after police repeatedly approached him about it before asking for his details and then arresting him, which resulted in him reportedly being pinned to the floor and handcuffed in front of his partner and young son.

Ryan told the Liverpool Echo he was then fined £100 and barred from the store but claims he was wearing his mask correctly the entire time and only moved it because his glasses had steamed up.

Merseyside Police however claim that Mr Farrell was seen to lower his mask, refused to give his details and then resisted arrest.

Dad-of-one Ryan said: “I convinced my partner to meet me after work to pick up some shopping and we wore our masks the entire way around the store.

“As we were leaving I went up to the kiosk to get some tobacco and my mask was steaming my glasses up.

“I pulled it down slightly to let the steam clear and a police officer who was close to the door gestured over to me and told me to put it back on.

“I put it right back up my nose, bought my tobacco and went to leave.

“As I was leaving, the officer said ‘If I have to speak to you about your mask again I will arrest you’.

“So I said ‘no worries, I did’ and went to carry on out of the store.”

Ryan said that it was at this point that the officer grabbed his coat and asked for his details, which he refused to give.

The officer then told him he was being arrested.

Ryan said: “I didn’t want to give my details because I hadn’t done anything wrong and when he grabbed me I tried to pull away.

“I was startled and I didn’t know what to do so I tried to get him away from me.

“He then put my hands behind my back and pushed me onto the floor.”

Ryan’s partner, who was with him at the time, videoed the incident from this point with the footage showing Ryan on the ground with three officers around him.

He is then stood up and taken outside where officers issued him with a £100 Covid fine for breaching regulations.

A spokesperson for Merseyside Police said: “The gentleman was seen by an officer to enter the Asda store in Birkenhead wearing his face mask around his neck.

“When asked by the officer to put on the face mask he pulled up the mask and walked away but was then seen to lower it again.

“He was advised by the officer to put the mask on properly or he would receive a fine.

“The officer attempted to engage with the gentleman to explain why he had been spoken to about his mask and was asked for his name in order to record the advice, which he refused to give.

“He was advised if he refused to give his details he would be arrested. As the officer attempted to arrest him the man resisted arrest and was eventually safely handcuffed on the floor.

“He was taken out of the front of the store where he was given a fixed penalty notice under coronavirus regulations and de-arrested.”

Ryan said that the incident was “extremely upsetting” for his partner who hadn’t left the house many times over the last year to protect their one-year-old son.

He added: “My son suffers with respiratory problems and almost died about a year ago, so we are very wary about putting him at risk.

“I always wear my mask because I wouldn’t forgive myself if he got sick again and my partner has been very wary about going out, so this was extremely upsetting.

“The whole incident escalated very quickly and it was embarrassing for us all.

“I have never been in trouble with the police and don’t want to cause any problems with them.”

Ryan was also told by the store’s security guard that he was banned for life.

A spokesperson for Asda confirmed to the ECHO that Mr Farrell had been banned from the store.

Merseyside Police added: “The rules are well known by everyone now , and Merseyside Police supported by the vast majority of the public will not accept, blatant and flagrant attempts to disregard them through individual selfishness that puts lives at risk.”