Police body camera footage obtained by CNN affiliate KTRK shows a woman being arrested at a Galveston, Texas, bank after she refused to wear a mask or leave.
The arrest occurred Thursday, the day after an order by Gov. Greg Abbott rolled back some of the state’s Covid-19 restrictions, including the state’s mask mandate. Private business, however, are still allowed to require masks at their discretion.
The footage shows a police officer entering the Bank of America branch in Galveston and telling the woman the bank can refuse service to her if she won’t put on a mask. She insists she doesn’t have to and the officer tells her she will be arrested for “intruding on the premises” if she refuses to cooperate or leave the bank. Eventually, the officer handcuffs her and removes her from the bank.
Terry White, 65, told KTRK that she entered the bank without a mask and was asked by an employee if she had one. White replied, “No thank you, I don’t need one,” and she was offered a mask by the employee.
When White refused the mask, she said she was asked to leave.
“I said no, I just want to close my account and then I’ll leave,” she told KTRK. “(The employee) goes, ‘Well, if you’re not going to leave, then I’m going to call the cops.’ I said, ‘Well, do what you have to do.’”
Galveston Mayor Craig Brown told CNN the woman was arrested on trespassing charges – “not on not wearing a mask.”
According to KTRK, police said White was charged with criminal trespass and resisting arrest.
CNN has reached out to White but has not heard back. Neither the Galveston Police Department nor Bank of America have responded to requests for comment.
What the footage shows
The body camera footage shows a Galveston police officer entering the bank and confronting the woman on Thursday, telling her, “Ma’am, if they ask you to leave, you have to leave.”
The woman tells the officer she’s trying to take her money out. The officer responds by telling her to which the officer says she still has to “abide by the rules.”
“Business have the right to refuse service, even if you’re not wearing a mask. That’s their choice,” the officer says.
“What are you going to do,” she asks, “arrest me?”
“Yes, for intruding on the premises,” the officer says. He tells the woman to step outside.
The woman insists she’s in a public place (“This is a private business,” the officer says) and accuses the officer of “taking away people’s human rights.”
A brief struggle follows as the woman appears to initially resist while the officer starts to handcuff her. Soon she’s on the floor of the bank, saying to other people inside the bank, all of whom appear to be wearing masks, “Police brutality, people.”
“No,” they say. “No, it’s not.”
The officer takes the woman out of the bank. She says she thinks the officer broke her foot, and the officer calls for emergency medical services. He places her in the back of a patrol car before the footage ends.
Reopening is a ‘delicate balance,’ mayor says
In an interview Friday, White told KTRK she traveled to Galveston in her recreational vehicle and was aware of the governor’s order lifting the mask mandate. KTRK reported that White was glad to have stood her ground and that she is “very opposed” to masks, saying at one point, “I won’t wear that diaper on my face.”
The order lifting the mask mandate has reignited the debate over face coverings in the state. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a lawsuit against Austin city leaders this week after they tried to maintain local mask requirements. On Friday, a judge denied the state’s request for a temporary restraining order against the local mandate and pushed the injunction hearing back until March 26.
“Many of the businesses and restaurants and shopping areas here on the island are enforcing still, or requesting, that all their clients and customers wear masks,” said Galveston Mayor Brown. “This particular incident was a lady that refused to do that, the bank had said that’s their policy.”
“It’s a delicate balance,” he added, to maintain safety while places open up. “That’s why we still encourage everyone on our island to maintain social distancing and wear their mask.”