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National Muslim group calls on Howard police to investigate alleged tasering incident at LA Mart in Columbia

When a Howard County man refused to remove his protective face covering when entering the LA Mart grocery store in Columbia earlier this month, he was allegedly tasered by a security guard, according to the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

The national Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization known as CAIR called on the Howard County Police Department on Wednesday to investigate the alleged incident.

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Howard County police spokeswoman Sherry Llewellyn confirmed Wednesday that officers were called to the LA Mart in the Oakland Mills Village Center on April 4 “for a report of a disorderly subject.” An investigation is ongoing, she added.

The resident, who is Muslim, entered the LA Mart wearing a face covering because of his occupation as a health care worker “whose job includes serving those with the COVID-19 disease,” according to CAIR. CAIR said the man is a “regular customer and familiar face” at the LA Mart.

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The man was stopped when he entered the store by a security guard who “allegedly insisted he remove the face covering or he would be denied the right to shop,” according to an email from CAIR.

“The Muslim shopper declined, asserting his right to protect himself, and proceeded with shopping for the handful of items he had stopped in to purchase.”

After the man finished his shopping and approached the checkout counter, the security guard “allegedly approached him in a confrontational way and tasered him,” and then “allegedly pinned him to the ground, restrained his wrists” and escorted him to an office in the store, according to CAIR.

A manager at the Columbia location could not be reached Wednesday.

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“This individual is a hero providing an essential service during this pandemic; yet, he was disrespected, attacked and humiliated as if he were a criminal. This ordeal has traumatized him and has had a profound effect on his wife and children,” Zainab Chaudry, CAIR’s director of Maryland outreach, said in a statement.

“We urge law enforcement to promptly investigate the circumstances of this incident, restore some measure of dignity, and help deliver justice for him and his family,” Chaudry added.

LA Mart, which specializes in international foods, opened its Howard County location in the Oakland Mills Village Center in Columbia last year.

“The actions of the LA Mart guard were reprehensible and cannot be tolerated. We will fight to obtain justice for him and his family, and look forward to holding this company responsible for the harm they have caused,” David Muncy, an attorney with Plaxen and Adler who is representing the county resident, said in a statement.

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