TAMPA — A Dunkin’ employee faces a manslaughter charge after punching a customer who then fell, hit his head and later died, police say.
The single punch that led to the arrest of 27-year-old Corey Pujols was thrown May 4 at the Dunkin’ store in the Marathon gas station at 410 S 50th St., just south of the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway, according to an arrest report. Pujols told police the man called him a racial slur.
Police and fire rescue crews were called to the store about 1:30 p.m. and found a 77-year-old man unconscious and bleeding from the head. Paramedics took the man to Tampa General Hospital, where he was placed in intensive care.
The man’s name is not included in the arrest report. The Tampa Police Department does not release the names of crime victims due to the department’s interpretation of Marsy’s Law, a voter-approved amendment to the state Constitution that was meant to protect crime victims but that deprives the public of information long available under Florida’s public records law.
According to information released Monday in a Tampa police news release, the man first went through the drive-thru window and became upset about the service. Employees asked him to leave. Instead, he parked his car, went inside the building and began arguing with Pujols, according to police.
Pujols told police that the man was a regular customer, was “extremely rude” that day and called Pujols a racial slur, according to the arrest report. Pujols, who is Black, said he asked the man to repeat what he said, and he uttered the same slur. Pujols said he punched the man once in the face, causing him to fall, the report said. The slur is not included in the report.
The store’s surveillance system captured video of the punch. The video shows the customer didn’t touch Pujols, and that the man appeared to hit the back of his head on the concrete floor after Pujols punched him, according to the report.
Police initially arrested Pujols on a charge of battery on a person older than 65. Jail records in that arrest list him as the Dunkin’ store’s manager. He was released the next day after posting $2,000 bail.
The customer died at Tampa General on Friday. An autopsy showed he had a skull fracture and brain contusions as a result of blunt trauma to the head. A doctor at the Hillsborough Medical Examiner’s Office told police the death would be ruled a homicide.
Police obtained a warrant for Pujols’ arrest on a charge of aggravated manslaughter of a person older than 65, a first-degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison. Jail records show he was arrested on Friday at his apartment on West Hillsborough Avenue. He was being held Tuesday without bail. Records show the court has appointed Pujols a public defender.
“We are deeply saddened by the incident at our franchised restaurant in Tampa,” a Dunkin’s spokesperson said in an emailed statement. “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.”
The statement did not address a question from the Times about Pujols’ current employment status with the company.
Formerly known as Dunkin’ Donuts, the company changed its name in 2018, dropping “Donuts” from its moniker.