News March 10, 2022 at 10:00 am

Dunkin’ worker sentenced for fatally punching customer who hurled racial slurs at him

Francis Akhalbey | Content Manager

Francis Akhalbey March 10, 2022 at 10:00 am

March 10, 2022 at 10:00 am | News

Corey Pujols (left) told investigators he fatally punched Vonelle Cook (right) after he hurled racial slurs at him -- Left Photovia Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office | Right Photo via New York Times

A 27-year-old Black Dunkin’ worker, who said he fatally punched a White customer after he hurled racial slurs at him, was sentenced to two years of house arrest in connection with the incident.

According to NBC News, Corey Pujols was handed the punishment after he pleaded guilty to fatally attacking the 77-year-old White man. Pujols, who had initially pleaded not guilty, faced an aggravated manslaughter charge in connection with the May confrontation. But court records revealed he later struck a plea deal that saw his charge reduced to felony battery.

Besides the house arrest, Pujols received an additional three-year probation sentence. He was also ordered to complete 200 hours of community service and partake in an anger management course.

According to Tampa Bay Times, the incident occurred at a Dunkin’ store in Florida on May 4. Police said Pujols punched the man, identified as Vonelle Cook, once in the face. The impact of the punch caused Cook to hit his head on the concrete floor – rendering him unconscious. He later was transported to the hospital by paramedics and placed in intensive care.

Cook, however, succumbed to his injuries three days later, police said. An autopsy report revealed he died as a result of suffering a skull fracture and brain contusions after sustaining blunt trauma to the head.

In the aftermath of the incident, the Tampa police said the altercation stemmed from the deceased taking issue with the service he was receiving at the store’s drive-thru, Face2Face Africa reported at the time. 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 that the deceased White man frequented the eatery and he was “extremely rude” on the day of the incident. Pujols also claimed Cook 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 punch him in retaliation.

A criminal report affidavit also disclosed that Cook called Pujols the N-word, NBC News reported. Responding to the sentence, Grayson Kamm, a spokesman for the Hillsborough State Attorney, said Pujols did not intend to kill the White victim as he cited the Black man’s age and lack of a criminal record.

“This outcome holds the defendant accountable while considering the totality of the circumstances—the aggressive approach and despicable racial slur used by the victim, along with the defendant’s age, lack of criminal record, and lack of intent to cause the victim’s death,” Kamm said.

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