Rogersville business man appeals coronavirus Safer at Home Order violation

Aric Butler was arrested in May 2020 for refusing to close his gym, according to court documents.

Posted: Feb 11, 2021 4:54 PM
Updated: Feb 11, 2021 6:29 PM

A Rogersville business owner arrested for violating the state's Safer at Home Order back in May is appealing his case to the circuit court.

According to a 10-page complaint, Aric Butler is a local chiropractor whose office is also connected to a gym he owns in Rogersville, called Docs Gym. The complaint states Butler refused to close his gym during the state's Safer at Home Order despite numerous warnings from police. The order closed non-essential businesses, like gyms, for a little over a month due to the coronavirus in May 2020.

In the court document, a Rogersville police officer goes through his entire interaction with Butler. The officer said after several warnings, they went to Docs Gym on May 1, where there were cars out front. They went to speak with Butler and brought up social media posts saying the gym was open.

The officer then asked Butler to please comply with the order and close his gym. Butler told the officer that if he closed his gym, he couldn't collect monthly memberships from people and said, "He was staying open trying to survive and support his family."

The officer then asked Butler again to close the gym and comply with the order and even tried to show Butler a copy of the state's Safer at Home Order, which he refused to look at. The officer told Butler he did not want to write him a fine and asked him to comply again.

Butler then said to the officer, "Write all the tickets I wanted to and he would just pay the $500 fine because that would be cheaper than staying closed." Once the officer wrote Butler the ticket, he refused to sign the citation. The officer said he was left with no other options than to arrest him for violating the order.

At one point, Butler asked the officer if he agreed with the state's Safer at Home Order that was put in place to protect people from coronavirus. The officer said there were parts of the order he didn't agree with but he had a job to uphold the law.

Butler did apologize to officers after his arrest. He has a court date set on April 12, 2021 for a jury trial after he and his attorney appealed the case to the Circuit Court.

Butler and his attorney did not comment on the pending case, and Rogersville police couldn't speak on the case either because it's not resolved.

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