Boise police arrested a man for not wearing mask in Costco. Now, he wants $4.5 million

A Boise man is seeking $4.5 million in compensation after Boise police officers arrested him for refusing to wear a mask inside a Costco store.

Peter Hearn, 51, said police arrested him in December after he refused to wear a mask inside the Costco at 2051 S. Cole Road, according to a tort claim filed with the city. Hearn said he argued for 10 minutes with store employees who implored him to wear a mask inside the store.

“(Hearn) informed them all that they were unlawfully harassing, trapping, assaulting, imprisoning, arresting, abusing and violating him,” the tort claim said.

Eventually, employees let him shop in the store without a mask before contacting police, according to the tort claim. Police arrived and arrested Hearn, with Hearn noting that other shoppers were cheering as police took him away.

Mayor Lauren McLean issued a mask mandate in July 2020 for all indoor and outdoor spaces; she eventually lifted the requirement in May, citing a decrease in cases.

Eight months later, Hearn wrote that the incident continues to affect his emotional and financial well-being.

“The stress and pressures from the threats and coercion has caused Peter to be physically sick, unable to sleep at night and to be as unhealthy and frightened as he ever has been in his life,” the tort claim said.

Among the wrongdoings described by Hearn are that police officers kidnapped him and deprived him of his rights.

In the tort claim, Hearn said he’s seeking $500,000 each in compensation from multiple Boise police officers, Ada County sheriff ’s deputies, Boise City Attorney Jayme Sullivan and Assistant City Attorney Laura Keys.

It wasn’t the first time Hearn has faced legal trouble for his views on masks. In November, he faced arrest for organizing a group of people planning to enter local businesses without masks in defiance of local health orders, according to the Idaho Press.

A tort claim is not a lawsuit but puts a government agency on notice of an alleged wrong. Idaho law requires a tort claim before a claimant can sue an agency for violating state law. The agency has 90 days to notify the claimant that it accepts or denies the claim. If the claim is denied, the claimant can sue.

The mayor’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday.

Hearn declined to comment when reached by phone Thursday. A Statesman request for Boise Police accounts of the incident is still pending.