Update: A Dunkin' employee who punched a customer, causing the man's death three days later, has been sentenced to two years of house arrest plus three years probation after pleading guilty to felony battery, reports the Tampa Bay Times. The charge was reduced from aggravated manslaughter under a plea deal. In the May 4, 2021 incident, 27-year-old Corey Pujols punched 77-year-old Vonelle Cook in the jaw, knocking him to the ground, after Cook entered a Tampa Dunkin' outlet screaming about poor drive-thru service and called Pujols the n-word repeatedly. Authorities say prosecutors took Pujols' lack of criminal history into account, along with the aggressive behavior from Cook, a sex offender who was released from prison in 2011. Our story from May 12, 2021 follows:
Police say an employee at a Dunkin' store in Florida fatally punched a customer who apparently used a racial slur against him. Corey Pujols, 27, is charged with manslaughter after allegedly punching the 77-year-old man on May 4. Police say the man, who received a single punch to the face, fell backward, hitting his head on the concrete floor. He suffered a skull fracture and brain contusions and died Friday, per the Tampa Bay Times. The customer had initially visited the drive-thru window, became upset about the service, and was asked to leave the premises, police note, adding that the man instead went inside the store, where he argued with Pujols. The Black employee said the "extremely rude" customer called him a racial slur, per WKMG. Pujols added he asked the man to repeat the slur, which he did.
The punch was captured on surveillance video, which "shows the customer didn't touch Pujols," per the Times. The 27-year-old—described in jail records as the manager of the store inside a Marathon gas station in Tampa—was initially charged with battery on a person older than 65 and released after posting $2,000 bail. Following the customer's death, he's now being held without bail on a charge of aggravated manslaughter of a person older than 65, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, per the Times. He's to be represented by a public defender. Dunkin' released a statement saying it is "deeply saddened" by the incident, which occurred at an independently owned franchise. The franchisee "is fully cooperating with the local authorities," it notes. (Read more Dunkin' stories.)