Published:November 21, 2021
A Calgary Costco shopper who forcefully shoved employees and punched a female police officer in the face in response to masking rules inside the northeast store has been convicted of multiple assault charges.
Gerald Kitchen, who represented himself at trial, was charged with four counts of assault and one count of resisting arrest related to a series of altercations at the 32nd Street N.E. business in November 2020.
Court heard the series of assaults began when Kitchen was asked by a female employee to adjust his mask upon entering the store, where COVID-19 protocols were in place.
Kitchen pulled his mask over his nose before turning away and lowering it moments later.
Asked a third time, Kitchen removed his face covering and, inches from her face, hollered, “For this fake f—ing virus?” before shoving the employee with both hands into some pallets.
When a store manager located Kitchen, he, too, was forcefully shoved.
Provincial Court judge Cheryl Daniel, in a written decision posted online last week, said much of Kitchen’s “patently absurd” defence was based on “a multitude of conspiracy theories,” including that his arrest was in response to an email he sent to a federal MP.
Kitchen repeatedly argued that audio and video footage of the altercation had been doctored, with police actors inserted, and that some of the witnesses were police plants who lied about their identities and involvement, according to the decision.
“Essentially, the accused alleged that the witnesses, police and Crown were all corrupt, that he was completely innocent, and that he was being unfairly framed because he had targeted certain politicians with complaints and demands,” Daniel wrote.
When he walked away, the officer placed a hand on Kitchen’s shoulder, telling him he was under arrest for assault.
That’s when Kitchen swung around and struck the considerably smaller officer in the face with a closed fist, witnesses testified.
With the store manager’s help, she was able to wrestle Kitchen to the ground and handcuff him.
Kitchen testified he was “getting really steamed” as the store manager followed him into an adjacent parking lot, but asserted he voluntarily surrendered to the officer.
He also denied shoving any of the employees, saying he went to the cashier with his cart and left.
“The whole thing, he alleges, is a total conspiracy and frame-up, and he was unfairly targeted,” wrote Daniel, who said the only thing fake was Kitchen’s defence.
“His denials are not remotely believable,” she wrote.