The Winslow man cited last month after city officials decreed he violated Gov. Doug Ducey’s executive order requiring “non-essential” businesses to close is preparing for his first court appearance, while police bodycam footage is fueling questions about who ordered officers to issue the citation.
Daniel J. Mazon has owned Authentic Indian Arts Store off Interstate 40 for nearly a decade. In response to COVID-19, Winslow Mayor Tom McCauley designated Mazon’s business as “non-essential,” even though a nearby Walmart was allowed to sell jewelry and art.
But Mazon added additional items such as dog food, livestock feed, household products, and retail snack items to his inventory in an effort to be an “essential” business. He was standing behind a display counter the morning of Saturday, April 11 when two Winslow officers came into his store.
Over the next 40 minutes Mazon was handcuffed, removed from his longtime business, and placed in a patrol car before officers released him with an order to appear at the Winslow Justice Court on May 19.
The arrest of Mazon, 71, captured national attention as well as protests from several Arizona legislators. Now, the public can view the entire incident via police bodycam footage.
One portion of the video garnering attention is a phone call an officer initiates less than two minutes after confronting Mazon about being open for business. For about 30 seconds, the officer speaks with an unknown person about State of Arizona paperwork that Mazon presented as proof he was complying with the law.
The officer was apparently instructed to issue the citation anyway, rather than taking a copy of the document and checking with state officials the next business day.
A city’s authority to order a business to cease operations and to enforce such an order appeared based in Arizona Revised Statute 26-311 and 26-316 which grant a mayor of an incorporated city the power to issue an emergency order and then “impose all necessary regulations to preserve the peace and order of the city,” including “ordering the closing of any business.”
According to city officials, Mazon violated ARS 26-317, which reads in part that any person “who knowingly fails or refuses to obey any lawful order or regulation issued as provided in this chapter shall be guilty of a class 1 misdemeanor.”
At Mazon’s May 19 court hearing, Navajo County Attorney Brad Carlyon has the authority to ask Justice of the Peace Boyce Little to dismiss the case, something Mazon’s family and supporters are advocating. Otherwise, Mazon will be asked to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty and then he will learn his next court date.
In the meantime, Mazon negotiated a truce with city officials so he could reopen for business less than two weeks after his arrest. He is selling his jewelry, art, and the extra inventory items he had on hand April 11, according to his son Joshua Mazon.
“He is operating in the exact same manner he was when arrested,” the younger Mazon told Arizona Daily Independent.
In an April 14 statement, Police Chief Dan Brown noted that Mayor McCauley visited Mazon’s business two days before the arrest and determined the store was in violation of the non-essential business order. A police command officer made a similar warning later that day.
The statement also notes Brown reviewed the body-cam footage with the city manager, and they determined the officers acted “in good faith based upon information and direction they had” at the time.
Two weeks later Brown announced he will retire as chief this summer.
The penalty for a Class 1 misdemeanor is up to six months in the county jail and a fine of $2,500. However, even if Mazon is convicted, it is unlikely someone of his age and lack of criminal history will be jailed, according to several criminal defense attorneys familiar with the case.