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Boise man, arrested on previous warrant after refusing to wear mask, seeks $4.5 million in damages

Peter Hearn claims he was kidnapped, falsely imprisoned and assaulted when he was arrested after refusing to wear a mask at a Boise Costco last year.
Credit: FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images
Shopping carts are collected outside a Costco store in Alhambra, California on June 2, 2013.

BOISE, Idaho — Peter Alan Hearn, 51, of Boise claims he was kidnapped, falsely imprisoned and assaulted when he was arrested after refusing to wear a required face mask at a Boise Costco late last year. He's seeking $4.5 million in damages from local law enforcement agencies.

In a tort claim against officers and attorneys in Boise and Ada County, the Idaho Press reports, Hearn said on Dec. 18 he entered Costco and employees asked him to wear a face covering. He declined and continued to shop. Later, Boise Police officers arrived at the store and arrested him.

Hearn was arrested on an outstanding trespassing warrant for participating in an anti-mask protest in November. A group of demonstrators, including Hearn, disrupted several downtown Boise businesses that required face masks. That day, the Boise Police Department received 19 calls from downtown businesses about a group of protesters going into stores without masks; police issued warrants for those who were identified.

Boise issued citations and/or made arrests of six people who violated the city's COVID-19 protocols, according to an online database

During the Costco arrest, Hearn said his handcuffs were too tight, damaging his wrists. And he has suffered emotional distress, lack of sleep and physical illness since the incident, the tort claim alleges.  

"The stress caused by the public servants(') unlawful acts, for months now, has caused Peter psychological instability," he wrote in the tort claim, dated July 28. "Emotionally and financially, Peter Alan Hearn has hit rock bottom." 

When reached by phone on Tuesday, Hearn declined to comment.

Boise Police Public Information Officer Haley Williams told the Idaho Press by email that the department does not comment on pending litigation. An Ada County Sheriff's Office official did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Ada County in January issued another warrant for Hearn when he failed to appear at a court hearing. Hearn wrote in the tort claim that he appeared at the courthouse for the hearing but was denied entry because he refused to wear a required face covering.

Hearn is seeking $500,000 each from multiple Boise Police officers, Ada County Sheriff deputies and city attorneys. 

A notice of tort claim is not a lawsuit, but it is often the precursor to a lawsuit. Tort claims are a written demand to recover money damages from a governmental entity, its employees and/or its representatives alleging misconduct. Tort law requires that the agency involved respond within three months.

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