Authorities in Tampa, Florida, have charged a Black Dunkin’ employee with manslaughter after he fatally punched a White customer he claims hurled racial slurs at him.
According to Tampa Bay Times, the incident occurred at the coffee and doughnut franchise store on May 4. Police said the suspect, identified as 27-year-old Corey Pujols, punched the 77-year-old White man once in the face. The deceased, who became unconscious as a result of hitting his head on the concrete floor, was transported to the hospital by paramedics and placed in intensive care. He, however, succumbed to his injuries on Friday and an autopsy report revealed he died as a result of a skull fracture and brain contusions after sustaining blunt trauma to the head.
In a news release on Monday, the Tampa police said the incident stemmed from the deceased taking issue with the service he was receiving at the store’s drive-thru. And though the workers told him to leave, he rather parked his car, entered the establishment and engaged in an argument with Pujols. Things escalated from there.
During interrogation, Pujols told investigators the deceased White man frequented the eatery and he was “extremely rude” on the day of the incident. Pujols also claimed the deceased hurled a racial slur at him during the argument. The accused Black male added that when he asked the White man to repeat the slur, he did – causing Pujols to allegedly punch him in retaliation.
Pujols was subsequently arrested and charged with battery on a person older than 65, Tampa Bay Times reported. He was later released on a $2,000 bail. Following the White man’s death, however, Pujols was re-arrested on Friday and charged with aggravated manslaughter of a person older than 65.
“We are deeply saddened by the incident at our franchised restaurant in Tampa,” a spokesperson from Dunkin’ said in a statement. “The franchisee, who independently owns and operates this restaurant, is fully cooperating with the local authorities. As this is an ongoing investigation, we defer any additional questions to the police.”
Pujols has been denied bail and he faces up to 30 years in prison if he is found guilty.