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A Dunkin’ employee in Tampa, Florida was unbelievably sentenced to only two years of house arrest after pleading guilty to felony battery over fatally punching a 77-year-old man for using racial slurs against him last year.
A judge ordered Corey Pujols, 27, to complete 200 hours of community service and attend an anger management course as well, according to the Associated Press.
Many are outraged and contend that there is no excuse, regardless of the slur, for hitting an elderly man so hard that he fell back, hitting his head on the ground resulting in his death.
According to police, the altercation occurred at approximately 1:30 p.m. on May 4 at the Dunkin’ outlet located at 410 South 50 Street in Tampa. Vonelle Cook, 77, had originally gone through the drive-thru for coffee and was unhappy with the service he received. He then parked his car and went inside to vent.
This one it’s going to be complicate case, where racism will play an important factor..
However assaulting an elderly it’s inexcusable ..
— Rud Morales (@rudmoraless) March 8, 2022
He murders someone and gets to plea down to battery? Wow!
— rustynip62 (@rustynip62) March 8, 2022
Cook, who was white, got in Pujols’ face, who is black, over the perceived bad service. He had already yelled at employees while waiting in the drive-thru. Reportedly, the employees had trouble hearing him when he ordered. The man was reportedly a regular at that Dunkin’ franchise.
Pujols asked one of his coworkers to call the police as he and Cook began to argue, according to Fox 13 Tampa Bay. He asked Cook to leave and that is when the elderly man used a racial slur against him.
Guy called him a name and he killed him and only got two years. Hardly justice.
— Blessed Groyper (@blessed_groyper) March 9, 2022
At that point, Pujols reportedly walked around the counter and warned Cook not to call him that again. Cook did the opposite and Pujols hit him hard in the jaw, causing the man to fall and hit his head on the floor.
Paramedics arrived on the scene, noting there was a lot of blood, and rushed him to the hospital. Cook was in a coma and never woke up. He died three days later from a skull fracture and brain contusions.
Pujols was charged with aggravated manslaughter after Cook passed away. He eventually agreed to plead guilty to a lesser charge of felony battery, according to Fox 13.
(Video Credit: FOX 13 Tampa Bay)
Grayson Kamm, who is a spokesman for Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren, asserted that prosecutors considered the “totality of the circumstances,” which included Pujols’ lack of criminal history, his age, and the fact that Cook’s death was unintentional, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
“Two of the primary factors were the aggressive approach the victim took toward the defendant and everyone working with the defendant, and that the victim repeatedly used possibly the most aggressive and offensive term in the English language,” Kamm stated, justifying Pujols’ deadly response.
Court records also show that Cook was a registered sex offender. No one from his family spoke at Pujols’ hearing.
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