Ex-Dunkin’ Donuts Worker Gets House Arrest For Punch That Killed Racist Customer

27-year-old Corey Pujols punched 77-year-old Vonelle Cook after he called him a racial slur. The punch was a fatal blow.

March 11, 2022
Corey Pujols (l) was sentenced to two years of house arrest for a fatal punch against Vonelle Cook (r), a customer who used a racial slur.

Corey Pujols (l) was sentenced to two years of house arrest for a fatal punch against Vonelle Cook (r), a customer who used a racial slur.

Photo by: Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office & Florida Department of Law Enforcement

Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office & Florida Department of Law Enforcement

Corey Pujols, a 27-year-old Dunkin’ Donuts employee, punched a customer who used a racist slur while complaining about the service he’d received. The single punch was a fatal blow to 77-year-old Vonelle Cook.

Cook was a regular customer at the Dunkin’ Donuts. He had originally been asked to leave due to his extreme rudeness when he came through the drive-thru. However, instead of leaving, Cook parked, went inside the store, and began arguing with the young employee.

This was apparently far from Cook’s worst behavior. According to BET, Cook was a registered sex offender who previously had pictures and DVDs of naked boys confiscated from his home.

Cook called Pujols, who is Black, the N-word, according to the criminal affidavit report. Pujols challenged Cook to repeat the slur. When the man once again called him the N-word, Pujols delivered the fatal punch to the older man’s jaw. The police statement revealed, "This knocked the victim out and the victim fell to the floor with his head hitting the floor.”

Cook then started bleeding from his head. Soon after he fell, he was taken to a hospital for treatment. He arrived in critical condition with multiple contusions in his brain and a skull fracture from the blunt trauma to his head.

Pujols was arrested at his home in Tampa, Florida, later that day, and he was then released from a Hillsborough County jail. He was arrested once again after Cook died a few days later.

Pujols was originally charged with manslaughter, but prosecutors felt that his intentions weren’t murderous. According to the Tampa Bay Times, Grayson Kamm, a spokesman for Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren, said prosecutors considered the “totality of the circumstances.” Part of that was considering that Pujols was only 27 years old and had no previous record.

So, 10 months after Cook died, Pujols was able to plead guilty to a reduced charge of felony battery. He was sentenced to two years of house arrest that is to be followed by three years of probation. He must also participate in an anger management course and complete 200 hours of community service.

A Dunkin' spokesperson said the company is deeply saddened by the incident that occurred on May 4, 2021. “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.”

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