JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Jacksonville woman is facing felony charges after she was arrested for coughing in the face of an officer with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, according to her arrest report.
Jail records show Sarah Ann McCord, 35, is charged with battery on a police officer. She had been charged with corruption by threat of a public servant but that charge was later dropped.
The state attorney’s office said the battery on a law enforcement officer charge was stronger. Both are third-degree felonies that carry up to five years in prison.
According to the report, after being arrested for battery, McCord was taken to UF Health, where she coughed in an officer’s face and told him, “I have coronavirus.” Police said the incident was caught on the officer’s body camera.
As of Friday evening, she was in the Duval County jail on a $14,500 bond.
News4Jax obtained a memo sent to attorneys with the Fourth Judicial Circuit explaining its zero-tolerance policy for COVID-19 related offenses. The memo appears to reference the incident involving the Jacksonville officer.
“In light of this inexcusable criminal conduct, the purpose of this memorandum is to make clear that the State Attorney’s Office for the Fourth Judicial Circuit shall have a “Zero-Tolerance Policy” for any intentional COVID-19 related criminal conduct that either harms or threatens to harm any law enforcement officer or first responder," the memo reads in part.
Steve Zona, president of the Jacksonville Fraternal Order of Police, told News4Jax that he’s spoken to the officer’s sergeant. Zona was told the officer is doing OK.
“Our officers saddle up and go to work every day and they know the risk they face. You know, the fear of them taking it home to their families is always on their mind," Zona said.
Here is the full memo from the State Attorney’s Office, which details the zero-tolerance policy: