WHITEFISH — A Kalispell man was recently arrested at a Whitefish fitness center after a dispute over his refusal to wear a face mask. Whitefish Police Chief Bill Dial says officers were dispatched to the Wave on March 17 to investigate a person who was inside the facility refusing to follow its rules and refusing to leave.
Officers met with members of Wave management who said that Bryan P. Miller of Kalispell was in the warm pool area and was refusing to follow the Wave’s policy of wearing a face covering.
Chief Dial said in a news release that Miller had previously been asked to leave by Wave staff and police for the same rule violation. Miller complied at the time and was told that he could return if he complied with the Wave’s policies.
On March 17, police were dispatched to the Wave where Miller once again refused to wear a face mask. The Wave staff offered to provide a face shield, which police say Miller refused.
Wave staff told officers that they would like him to leave the facility, but Miller refused. Officers then asked Miller numerous times to leave, and Miller again refused. He was then handcuffed and removed from the building.
Once Miller was outside the Wave, Chief Dial says officers informed Miller several times that they would cite him for criminal trespass, and he would be released. Miller stated he would rather be arrested and indicated that if he was cited and released, he may enter the Wave again, according to Chief Dial.
Officers took Miller to the Whitefish Police Department where he was booked and released after posting bond approximately an hour later.
“Miller was not arrested for not wearing a mask. The City’s face covering ordinance does not provide civil or criminal penalties for individuals who violate it,” the news release states.
Miller was arrested for trespassing, a misdemeanor. Dial noted that “private businesses have the right to refuse service to anyone they feel are a detriment to their business or other patrons.”
Miller is scheduled to appear in Whitefish Municipal Court on March 31.