Anguished son says dad suffered heart attack while being arrested for not wearing a mask outside

An Australian man reportedly suffered a heart attack while being arrested for violating a local outdoor mask mandate, despite vocalizing his medical exemption from the mandate to police who “force[d] control by any means necessary”.

A video of the altercation was posted to Instagram by the man’s son, Joseph Merlino, who expressed outrage over the incident at Brisbane Botanical Gardens.

The man was stopped by police while running with his partner and was questioned about the absence of his mask. He promptly told the officers that he suffers from heart problems and struggles to breathe. The officers, however, did not seem to care.

They handcuffed the man, despite his complaint that the cuffs were hurting him. One officer replied, “I’m not confident that you’re going to comply with our directions”.


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A post shared by Joseph Merlino (@_josephmerlino)

Officers dragged the man away while his partner captured the entire scene on camera. The man was fully compliant with police despite their extreme escalation of the situation. As he walked off with the officers, a sudden cry of pain can be heard in the video as he collapsed to the ground seizing.

While on the ground, the man tried to reach for medicine in his bag as the police remained laissez-faire about the life-threatening situation.

“See, do you believe me now you p****s?” his partner said as she captured the incident.

Merlino gave a heartfelt breakdown of the incident in a lengthy Instagram caption that accompanied the videos taken by the partner.

“He did not do anything illegal. He did not retaliate in a violent manner. He was conducting himself in a peaceful manner. Not looking for trouble,” Merlino said of his father.

“Why was he handcuffed? Why was he under arrest? What did he do wrong?  This doesn’t make sense. The government is forcing control by any means necessary,” Merlino posited.

He said the government is “creating fear and bullying tactics to make people not be able to able to have a voice.”

Merlino expressed the pain he felt for his father who had to experience being “arrested pushed to the ground by 4 police as he was having a seizure and having a cardiac arrest. I haven’t cried for many years and I balled my eyes out seeing him suffering that I couldn’t do anything or be there for him and feeling as a son to protect his father.”

“His partner was right by his side helping my father as these police had no regard for his well-being making a joke of his seizure and not believing he had heart problems,” Merlino stated as he wondered what would have happened if his father was alone while the police disregarded his condition.

“My father could have suffered brain damage from this. Permanent injury or death. All for what because of a mask? Which he had all the medical requirements to not wear one for his own health,” the man’s son said in defense.

Merlino said that “this is not a democracy” and called for others to pay attention because it could happen to anyone.

“Police are supposed to serve and protect and there is none of that happening here…This will not stand and I will fight for my rights and my freedom,” he pledged.

The Queensland Police responded to the incident and said the man “appeared to collapse” but, “no medical issue” has yet been identified according to Sky News.

A spokesperson told the outlet that the man was taken to the hospital “as a precaution”.

“As police had discontinued the arrest at that time, investigations are continuing into any possible offences committed on that day,” the spokesperson said.

Stay-at-home orders and outdoor mask mandates were extended through August 8 in response to a Delta variant outbreak.


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