Tampa, FL – A Dunkin’ Donuts employee is facing manslaughter charges after he punched and killed a 77-year-old customer who used a racial slur at him.
The incident occurred just before 1:30 pm on May 4 at the Dunkin’ Donuts location inside the Marathon gas station in the 400-block of S. 50th Street, south of the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
Police and paramedics responded to the store for a report of an unconscious man bleeding from the head.
The victim was transported to Tampa General Hospital and placed in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), the Tampa Bay Times reported.
The arrest report said that the incident began when the elderly man became upset about the customer service at the drive-thru window.
Employees asked the man to leave but instead, he parked his car and went inside to talk to someone, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
Tampa police said the man began arguing with an employee identified as 27-year-old Corey Pujols.
The arrest report said that Pujols told police the man was a regular customer, but that he was “extremely rude” that day and called him a racial epithet, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
Pujols told police that he asked the elderly man to repeat what he had said to him, and the man called him the racial slur again.
The police report said that Pujols told officers he threw one punch at the man and the customer fell to the floor, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
The incident was captured by the store’s surveillance camera and showed the elderly man didn’t lay a finger on Pujols before he was struck, according to the police report.
The arrest report said the victim hit his head on the on the concrete floor after he was punched, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
Police arrested Pujols at the scene and charged him with battery on a person over the age of 65.
He is listed as the manager of that Dunkin’ Donuts store in the jail records, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
Pujols was released the next day on a $2,000 bail.
His victim died in the hospital three days later on May 7 after never having recovered consciousness, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
The autopsy showed the victim died from a skull fracture and blunt force trauma to his head.
One of the pathologists from the Hillsborough Medical Examiner’s Office told police the man’s death would be ruled a homicide, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
Tampa police arrest Pujols on a warrant for aggravated manslaughter of a person older than 65 the same day that his victim died.
The felony charge carries a maximum of 30 years in prison if Pujols is convicted, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
Jail records showed he was being held without bail and had requested a public defender.
Dunkin’ (the store dropped the word “Donuts” from its name in 2018) released a statement about the incident, but would not say whether they had terminated Pujols, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
“We are deeply saddened by the incident at our franchised restaurant in Tampa,” a corporate spokesman said via email. “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.”