St. Petersburg man spit on officer, claimed he had coronavirus. Now he faces a federal charge.

The man spit on a St. Petersburg officer last month he told her he was trying to infect her, according to the FBI. He has tested negative for COVID-19.
James Jamal Curry faces a federal charge of perpetrating a biological threat hoax. He is accused of spitting at a St. Petersburg police officer and claiming that he has COVID-19, police said.
James Jamal Curry faces a federal charge of perpetrating a biological threat hoax. He is accused of spitting at a St. Petersburg police officer and claiming that he has COVID-19, police said. [ Pinellas County Sheriff's Office ]
Published April 8, 2020

A St. Petersburg man accused of spitting blood and saliva onto a police officer’s face and claiming he was spreading the coronavirus now faces a federal charge of perpetrating a biological threat hoax.

James Jamal Curry, 31, has since tested negative for the virus, according to a federal arrest affidavit filed Tuesday by the FBI in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida.

Curry already faces felony state charges for two domestic violence-related incidents that took place on March 27 and 28, according to police. That’s when Curry claimed he had COVID-19 and said he would infect St. Petersburg police officers, according to federal records.

Officers first arrested Curry during a domestic battery investigation on March 27 in the 100 block of 41st Avenue N. Curry’s live-in-girlfriend told officers he had slammed her into a wall and kicked her legs out from under her that day. She said he had become increasingly violent.

As he was being handcuffed, police said, Curry coughed on an officer and said he had the coronavirus. He was warned that he would face another criminal charge if he tried that again. Curry was arrested on charges of felony domestic battery and false imprisonment that night.

The next day, he was released after posting $6,000 bail. The court ordered him to stay away from the woman. But officers said they soon found him outside the apartment where he was first arrested.

This time, police said Curry violently resisted arrest and tried to get away from officers as they escorted him to a police cruiser. Once inside, officers placed his legs in hobbles because they said he kicked the right rear passenger window so hard it bent. Even once his legs were restrained, police said Curry kept striking his head against the window. They also doused him with pepper spray.

A sergeant tried to grab Curry’s shoulder to pull him away from the window, the federal affidavit said, which is when he sprayed “a mist of spit” onto her face. A second gob of saliva hit her on the nose and entered her mouth.

The sergeant wiped her face and noticed there was blood in the saliva.

“I have corona, bitch, and I’m spreading it around,” Curry told the officers while laughing, according to the federal document. It said he also threatened the sergeant: “I know where you live ... I’m going to kill you."

He continued to resist officers, trying to bite them and yelling racist remarks, as he was taken to the Pinellas County jail.

The jail staff said Curry showed no symptoms of COVID-19. The FBI took a nasal swab from him on April 3 to test for the virus, which came back negative on Monday. Curry has been kept in a separate cell in the meantime. Since March 27, all new inmates are kept in a separate wing of the jail for 14 days to avoid a coronavirus outbreak. So far, one Pinellas detention deputy has tested positive for the virus.

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Curry faces state charges of making threats against a police officer, resisting arrest with violence, criminal mischief, violating his pre-trial release and violating public health emergency quarantine rules under Pinellas County’s stay-at-home order, which went into affect March 26. He remains in jail Wednesday on a federal hold.

The maximum penalty for a federal charge of perpetrating a biological threat hoax that did not cause serious bodily injury or death is five years in prison.

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