GOLDEN, Colo. (CBS4) – The owner of a Golden distillery and bar-restaurant wants government officials to take a look at tougher penalties for people who attack workers trying to enforce Colorado’s face mask order. It comes after an incident at the Golden Moon Speakeasy Saturday night, when a local man was cited for shoving a worker in a dispute over a mask.
“This is an employee of a business, following the law and doing what we’re legally required to do,” said Stephen Gould, a former Marine and operator of the Golden Moon.
John Roche, 62, of Golden, is cited with harassment and trespassing for the incident Saturday night. Video from the Golden Moon shows a man walk in and take a seat outdoors, then an apparent discussion with a server holding a pitcher takes place. The customer gets up and shoves the server into a doorway and the worker falls on the floor.
“He was pushed with so much force that he broke that actual door latch on the door frame,” said Gould. “He hit it at just the right angle where the screws sheered out of the cement behind the door frame, ripping open his back and bruising his back.”
Gould declined to share the worker’s identity, saying he was frightened.
“He’s doing better now. He missed work, one shift of work. He was pretty sore. He’s got a couple of big bruises on his back. A couple of scabs.”
Two customers are seen getting up and keeping the incident from progressing further. Gould comes into view in the video and there’s more arguing, but the camera system, he says, does not record audio.
“Calling me names, challenging me to go down a dark alley so he could ‘Kick my — and teach me a lesson.’ Apparently for asking my staff to ask him to wear a mask.”
CBS4 called Roche, but the man who answered had no comment.
Golden Police Department Deputy Chief Joe Harvey said, “Certainly we’ve had cases where people have gotten angry. We’ve had words exchanged.”
He said he believed it was the first time a person had attacked someone in Golden over the mask order.
“We certainly don’t want to issue any citations for this. It is much better for those of us in law enforcement if people would just follow the rules.”
Gould believes the harassment charge could be stiffer. Roche is ordered to face a city court judge in October over the allegations.
“And the reality is he’s a selfish bully that tried to harm a small business and a small business employee over something as silly as being asked to wear a mask and follow the law,” said Gould.
He said he planned to talk to Golden city leaders about a tougher penalty, noting Illinois has now enabled prosecution for aggravated battery for anyone who assaults a worker trying to enforce its mask order.
“This is no different than an underage drinker with a fake ID walking in here and attacking one of my employees for not selling him booze underage. … Every single business that deals with the public — and I don’t care what kind of business it is — their employees are at risk because of members of the public that are angry. That are anti-mask and are willing to attack people simply for asking them to put a mask on.”
At the bar and restaurant next door on Thursday night customers talked about the mask order.
“It’s really so nothing closes down. We want to be socially responsible so we keep things kind of going and at the same time be responsible. It works in two ways,” said Rich Cartwright.
Gould was still upset with the man who harmed his server.
“This guy John Roche is so full of anger and so self-entitled that someone doing something simple like saying ‘Hey you need a mask,’ is in his mind justification to attack somebody.”