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A Florida man is now facing a federal terrorism charge and up to five years in prison after he was accused of coughing and spitting on police officers while claiming to be infected with the coronavirus.
James Jamal Curry, 31, was served an indictment by a federal grand jury in Tampa Wednesday for perpetrating a biological weapon hoax, the Associated Press reported.
St. Petersburg police officers responded to a domestic violence call involving Curry on March 27, according to court documents. During his arrest, Curry declared that he was infected with COVID-19 and coughed on an officer’s arm, police said.
Curry bonded out of jail the following day, and police were called later to the same residence where Curry had been arrested a day earlier. During his second arrest, Curry spit on an officer multiple times, hitting the inside of her mouth with blood-filled saliva, prosecutors said.
Curry again claimed to have the coronavirus, laughed and announced that he was spreading it. Law enforcement eventually obtained a warrant to test Curry for COVID-19, and the result was negative.
Curry's attorney, Samuel Landes, told the Associated Press in an email that prosecutors are stretching a law meant for terrorists to cover a run-of-the-mill police encounter.
“The United States Attorney’s position in this case would make each of the millions of COVID-19 patients ‘in possession’ of a biological weapon,” Landes said.
Curry faces up to 5 years in federal prison if convicted.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.