A Tampa Dunkin’ Donuts employee, Corey Pujols, 27, accused of punching and killing a customer for using a racial slur against him, will spend two years on house arrest after pleading guilty to felony battery charges. He will also be required to complete 200 hours of community service and attend an anger management course.
About the Case
Investigators say that the victim, 77-year-old Vonelle Cook, had gone through the Dunkin’ drive-thru and was angry with the lack of service. He then parked his vehicle, walked into the donut shop, and started yelling about customer service.
Cook was a frequent customer and Dunkin’ employees described him as regularly troublesome and abusive according to a release from the State Attorney’s Office.
When he walked into the restaurant that day, prosecutors say he was aggressive and verbally abusive toward employees including Pujols. Pujols told a coworker to call the police.
When Pujols, who is Black, asked Cook to leave, police say that Cook used the “N” word against him. Pujols told Cook not to call him that racial slur again, and when Cook did, Pujols punched him in the jaw, knocking the man out, who then fell and hit his head on the floor.
Tampa Fire and Rescue responded to the scene and transported Cook to the hospital where he died three days later. According to the autopsy, Cook suffered a skull fracture and contusions on the brain from the fall.
Regarding the Charges
Initially, Pujols had been charged with aggravated manslaughter of an elderly adult following the May 5th, 2021, incident that occurred at the Dunkin’ Donuts at 410 South 50th Street in Tampa.
The prosecution accepted a plea deal from Pujols, who agreed to change his plea to guilty for a lesser felony battery charge in exchange for a more lenient sentence.
The Case Outcome
This outcome considers the entire circumstances—the aggressiveness and use of a racial slur by Vonelle Cook, along with Corey Pujol’s age, lack of a criminal record, and lack of intent to cause the victim’s death.
Corey Pujols will be on house arrest for two years and will be required to go to anger management classes as well as perform 200 hours of community service. He will also be on probation for three years following his two years of house arrest.
Court records show that Cook was a registered sex offender and spent time in prison.
Related > Assault & Battery Charges in Florida
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