A woman is facing misdemeanor charges after she refused to leave an island bank after being asked to put on a face mask, according to the Galveston Police Department.
Police on Thursday obtained an arrest warrant for Terry Wright, 65, of Grants Pass, Oregon, after a confrontation at a Bank of America at 6109 Central City Blvd. in Galveston, according to the police department.
The incident is the first known local example of police being called to intervene over a mask disagreement since Wednesday when a statewide mask mandate ended.
Wright, who had not been formally charged as of Tuesday, entered the building without a face mask about 12:30 p.m. Thursday and refused to wear a mask while inside, police said in a statement. She was asked to leave the building and refused, leading a bank manager to call police, according to the statement.
Officers told Wright she “needed to leave the bank if she did not want to wear a face mask as requested by bank management,” the department said. She didn’t leave, and began to resist officers who attempted to take her into custody, according to police.
The police department Friday released body camera video of an officer’s encounter with Wright.
In the video, Wright can be seen standing in the middle of the bank’s lobby, surrounded by other customers, all of whom are wearing masks.
Wright told the officer she had gone to the bank to make a withdrawal. The officer asked her to go outside or put on a mask. She refused.
“What are you going to do, arrest me?” she asked. “That’s hilarious.”
Wright then told the officer the law said she didn’t have to wear a mask. As the officer took out handcuffs, she pulled away and began to walk toward the door. The officer stopped her and forced her to the ground. After she was handcuffed, she complained that her foot was injured.
“Police brutality right here people,” she said to the other customers at the bank.
“No, it’s not,” multiple other people off camera can be heard saying back to her.
Wright suffered minor injuries during the struggle, police said. She was taken to a University of Texas Medical Branch hospital for treatment, police said.
Gov. Greg Abbott this week ended statewide orders requiring people to wear face masks in public places. Abbott declared businesses should decide for themselves what COVID precautions to take on their properties.
Many businesses have opted to keep their own mask rules in place.
Earlier this week, Galveston Police Chief Vernon Hale said he would rather his officers not be called about mask issues but that they would respond to such calls as needed.
He specifically warned that people could be charged with trespassing if they refused to leave a building after being asked to cover their faces and refused to do so.
Police said they had obtained an arrest warrant on resisting arrest and criminal trespassing charges.
Wright hadn’t been charged or booked into the jail as of Friday afternoon because she was being treated for her injuries, police said.