Rocco Sapienza asked the fellow bar patron to wear a mask and told him to stop being rude to the staff at the bar.
An 80-year-old man died after being pushed to the ground after a confrontation over wearing a mask a bar last week. Donald Lewinsky, 65, was charged with the death of Rocco Sapienza after Lewinsky pushed the latter onto the ground following an altercation over wearing masks. The duo was at West Seneca bar near Buffalo when the incident happened. Sapienza who was wearing a mask had confronted Lewinsky for being lax about CDC guidelines to help contain the spread of coronavirus. It was reported that Lewinsky was also rude to the staff at the bar. The verbal altercation turned physical and Sapienza was thrown to the ground where he hit his head and succumbed to the injury, reported The Guardian.
The Erie County district attorney John Flynn confirmed that Lewinsky was facing a charge of criminally negligent homicide in the death of Sapienza. The incident happened on September 26. Lewinsky was at the bar buying buckets of beer to a band playing outside when Sapienza called him out for not wearing a mask and being rude to the staff at the bar. During the altercation that followed, Lewinsky allegedly shoved the 80-year-old onto the floor. Sapienza suffered a seizure. "He was pretty much in an unresponsive condition right away. He went into a seizure right away there on the floor of the bar," Flynn said. The 80-year-old was rushed to the Erie County Medical Center where he succumbed to his injuries on September 30.
The Erie County district attorney stated that the 80-year-old had died from blunt force trauma of the head upon impact to the ground. Flynn cited the preliminary autopsy results while also confirming that there was video footage of the incident. Flynn said the altercation went beyond masks as it escalated. "I get the impression from witness statements that these two just didn't like one another ... these two were butting heads from minute one there," said Flynn. "So there were other things besides the mask that were involved here." Flynn said there was no audio on the footage recorded. Both Lewinsky and Sapienza were regulars at the bar but a preliminary investigation revealed neither knew each other from before. Flynn also said they were not intoxicated at the time of the altercation.
Lewinski's attorney Barry Covert labeled Sapienza’s death a tragedy and said his client would not plead guilty in the case. "I have watched the bar videotape, and it does appear that Mr. Sapienza does come from a different part of the bar to initiate the confrontation with my client, who was at a different section of the bar," said Covert. Lewinsky was arrested on Monday but released with an appearance ticket as the "newly passed state bail laws do not consider criminally negligent homicide a holdable offense unless certain criteria are met such as an outstanding warrant.
Mask-related altercations have risen all over the country during the pandemic. The mask debate appears to have aligned with the political divide in the country with a majority of the conservatives sharing Trump's aversion to masks while the progressive people align with the CDC guidelines, calling on others to wear masks to help contain the spread of the virus.
Donald Trump dramatically removed his mask upon reaching the White House in a well-choreographed return to the White House. He went onto tell Americans to not be afraid of coronavirus despite more than 210,000 people dying from the virus in America. "Don't be afraid of Coronavirus. Don't let it dominate your life" Trump told the public, yet again downplaying the impact and severity of the virus.
Dr. Robert Redfield, Director of the Centers for Disease Control, has continued to maintain that masks are the best way to limit the spread of the virus. "If all of us would put on a face-covering now for the next four weeks, six weeks, we could drive this epidemic to the ground," he said, reported PEOPLE . "We are not defenseless against this virus. We actually have one of the most powerful weapons you could ask for. The most powerful weapon we have that I know of is wearing face coverings."
Cover image source: Family handout