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Deputies: Maryland man purposefully coughs near deputy, security officer after being tested for COVID-19

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Posted at 5:22 PM, Apr 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-01 17:22:14-04

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Md. — Deputies say a Hagerstown man purposefully coughed near a deputy and security officer after he was tested for COVID-19.

On March 24, a Washington County Sheriff's Office deputy assigned to work at Meritus Medical Center, assisted hospital security with an aggressive man.

The man, identified as 32-year-old Michael Palani Smith was in the emergency department. It was learned that Smith had been tested for COVID-19 prior to his arrival at the hospital.

When asked to wear a protective bandana, Smith refused and became combative with staff and security.

The deputy said Smith yelled that he didn’t care if he infected others because no one cares about him.

During the incident, Smith pulled his bandana down and forcefully coughed several times in the direction of the deputy and security officer.

After being moved to another room, Smith continued to be combative and tried to harm himself. The medical staff was finally able to gain control of Smith.

During the incident, the deputy was wearing proper personal protective equipment, face mask, gloves, and glasses.

On Wednesday, a warrant was served on Smith for one count of threat of mass violence and two counts of first-degree assault 1st degree.

Additionally, Smith was charged via criminal summons for two counts of second-degree assault.

Smith is currently being held at the Washington County Detention Center on no bond.