Prosecutors: Bar patron, 80, shoved over mask request dies

October 6, 2020 GMT

WEST SENECA, N.Y. (AP) — A New York man who authorities say confronted another patron at a bar for not wearing a mask and was shoved to the ground has died.

Rocco E. Sapienza, who was 80 years old, confronted another patron at a bar in West Seneca on Sept. 26 because he was not wearing a mask, Erie County prosecutors said on Monday. Donald M. Lewinski, 65, then shoved Sapienza, who fell and struck his head on the floor, District Attorney John Flynn said.

Sapienza was knocked unconscious and eventually died on Oct. 1, WIVB-TV reported. The cause of death was blunt force trauma, the district attorney said.


Lewinski is scheduled to be charged with criminally negligent homicide, a felony, on Tuesday, the station reported.

An attorney for Lewinski, Barry Covert, said he would plead not guilty and called Sapienza’s death a tragedy in an email to The Associated Press.

“I have watched the bar videotape, and it does appear that Mr. Sapienza does come from a different part of the bar to initiate the confrontation with my client, who was at a different section of the bar,” Covert added.

West Seneca is a suburb of Buffalo in western New York.