TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Florida prosecutors filed a manslaughter charge Friday against a Dunkin’ store employee accused of fatally punching a 77-year-old customer after the employee said the man repeatedly used a racial slur against him.
Tampa police arrested Corey Pujols, 27, earlier this month. The victim, who officials haven’t named, was punched May 4 and died three days later, according to authorities.
Pujols told police that the man was “extremely rude” the day of the punch and had called him a racial slur. Pujols, who is Black, said he confronted the man about the slur, at which point the 77-year-old repeated it. The slur was not described further by police.
A Tampa Police Department report says that after he was punched, the victim fell backward and hit his head on the concrete floor. An autopsy shows the man suffered a skull fracture and brain contusions.
According to a statement from the State Attorney’s Office, the victim’s use of racial slurs was highly inflammatory, but inflammatory speech alone does not justify violence.
Dunkin’ released a statement saying that the franchisee who owns and operates the restaurant where the attack occurred is fully cooperating with authorities.
Pujols is free on $15,000 bond. Attorneys for Pujols didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment.