A Florida Dunkin’ employee who alleged a customer called him a racial slur punched the man, killing him, police said.
Around 1:30 p.m. May 4, Corey Ellis Pujols, 27, was working at the Tampa Bay doughnut chain when the 77-year-old man went through the Dunkin’ drive-thru and allegedly became “upset due to the lack of service he was receiving,” police said, according to St. Petersburg’s WTSP.
Employees refused to serve the man, and requested he leave. He then parked his vehicle and entered the Dunkin’, police said.
According to an arrest report obtained by the Tampa Bay Times, Pujols, who is Black, told officers the man, a regular customer, was “extremely rude” and called him a racial slur.
Pujols “challenged” the elderly man to repeat the slur, and when he did, the Dunkin’ manager allegedly delivered a single blow to his face, knocking the customer down and causing him to strike his head on the concrete floor, police said.
Video surveillance footage shows the man never made physical contact with Pujols, the arrest report notes.
Emergency responders took the customer, who was unconscious and bleeding, to Tampa General Hospital and he died from his injuries three days later.
The Hillsborough Medical Examiner’s Office determined the victim suffered blunt trauma to the head, resulting in a skull fracture and brain contusions, and ruled his death a homicide.
Police arrested Pujols on a charge of aggravated manslaughter of an elderly adult, a first-degree felony that’s punishable by up to 30 years behind bars, and he is currently being held without bail, online records show.
“We are deeply saddened by the incident at our franchised restaurant in Tampa,” a Dunkin’s spokesperson told the Tampa Bay Times in a statement, noting, “The franchisee, who independently owns and operates this restaurant, is fully cooperating with the local authorities.”
Police have not released the victim’s identity.