TAMPA, Florida (AP) — A Florida man accused of coughing on and spitting at police officers while claiming to be infected with the coronavirus was indicted on a federal terrorism charge.
A federal grand jury in Tampa returned an indictment Wednesday charging James Jamal Curry, 31, with perpetrating a biological weapon hoax, according to court records.
He had previously been charged by criminal complaint last month.
He faces up to five years in federal prison if convicted.
Curry’s attorney, Samuel Landes, said 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.
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 later called 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 the virus around.
Law enforcement obtained a warrant to test Curry for COVID-19, and the result was negative.