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Australian police officer chokes woman during arrest for not wearing mask outdoors in viral video

The department is reviewing the situation

A police officer in Melbourne, Australia, chokes a woman who violated the rule requiring masks to be worn in public. (Image source: The Guardian video screenshot)

A police officer in Melbourne, Australia, is now under investigation by the department after the officer was seen on video choking a woman he was reportedly attempting to arrest after a confrontation over her violation of the city's mask mandate, CNN reported.

According to police, officers were out on patrol when they saw a 21-year-old woman not wearing a mask. In Melbourne, everyone is required to wear a mask in public, even outdoors.

They confronted the woman, who allegedly refused to give her name and address, leading police to arrest her. Once they attempted to detain her, police say she began resisting.

In the process of restraining her, a male officer is seen on video with his hands around her neck choking her and taking her to the ground.

Victoria police officer filmed allegedly choking and pinning woman to the ground

The woman's boyfriend told 7News that she had an exemption for not wearing a mask, but police say she didn't mention that during the encounter and arrest. The typical punishment for violation of the mask mandate is a fine. From CNN:

It is currently mandatory to wear a face covering in parts of Victoria state. Under strict coronavirus measures, those caught without a face covering face a fine of 200 AUD (about $140 USD).

"Police made the decision to arrest the woman after she failed to provide her name and address. She also did not state she had an exemption for not wearing a face covering," said police in a statement.

The police say, and the video backs them, that the woman became physically aggressive when they initiated the arrest. The woman's boyfriend, however, believes it to be ridiculous that it even came to that over the fact that she wasn't wearing a mask outdoors.

"The way that they came up to us all intimidating is itself enough," he told 7 News. "They're meant to make us feel protected, right? We don't feel protected."

Many public health experts, even those that believe non-medical masks are effective against the spread of COVID-19, typically say that they are not needed in outdoor scenarios where social distancing is possible.

In the United States, there is evidence from outdoor gatherings and crowded beaches — not to mention protests — that there is not a high risk of COVID-19 transmission from outdoor activities.

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