Lawrence anti-mask protester formally charged with 3 felonies stemming from altercation near vaccine clinic

photo by: Rochelle Valverde

Justin Spiehs points to commissioners while speaking against the county mask requirement as part of the Douglas County Commission meeting on Sept. 22, 2021.

A Lawrence man known for leading anti-mask protests in town has been charged with three felonies in Douglas County District Court.

Justin P. Spiehs, 40, was recently formally charged with two counts of aggravated assault, a level-seven felony, and one count of interference with law enforcement, a level-nine felony, according to a charging document provided to the Journal-World.

The aggravated assault charges list two separate alleged victims, a man and a 9-year-old. In both counts, Spiehs is accused of placing another person in reasonable apprehension of immediate bodily harm with a deadly weapon. The charging document lists the weapon as a “board.”

He is also accused of obstructing or resisting a law enforcement officer’s official duty in response to a suspected felony.

If convicted, Spiehs faces less than a year of probation for all three charges, depending on his criminal history, according to the state’s sentencing guidelines. He is scheduled to next appear in court on Dec. 15.

Spiehs was originally arrested on suspicion of two counts of aggravated assault on Nov. 13, the Journal-World previously reported. The arrest location was listed as West Middle School, 2700 Harvard Road, where Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health was hosting a vaccine clinic for children between the ages of 5 and 11.

Lt. David Ernst of the Lawrence Police Department told the Journal-World at the time officers responded to a report of a disturbance around 10 a.m that day. When they arrived, an individual told police they were taking their child to the vaccine clinic when Spiehs confronted them. The person said Spiehs separated a stick from a sign he was holding and began to wave the stick at them, which was determined to have put them in fear of bodily harm.

Spiehs was released from custody after posting a $2,500 bond.

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