Words are not always harmless. Sometimes they can be the catalyst to violence, especially if those words are derogatory and demeaning.
Two Florida men had to learn this the hard way after an altercation left one dead and the other charged in his death.
Corey Pujols pleaded guilty to felony battery this week for throwing the punch that killed Vonelle Cook in a Tampa Dunkin’.
Cook, who was a regular at the Dunkin’, became upset at the service while trying to order coffee from the drive-thru. Dunkin’ workers claimed they had problems hearing the 77-year-old man which made him even more upset. Employees then asked Cook to leave, but instead, he parked his car and headed into the Dunkin’ to continue to harass the staff.
Corey Pujols, who was an employee of Dunkin’, urged his co-workers to call the police, but the altercation continued to escalate. Cook continued his verbal tirade towards Pujols and his co-workers eventually calling Pujols the n-word.
Pujols immediately took offense and warned Cook not to use the disgusting word again.
When angry white men are asked not to say the n-word, we all know what happens next.
Cook defiantly called Pujols the n-word a second time, completely set him off. Pujols reached over and punched Cook square in the jaw knocking him off his feet. The punch resulted in Cook hitting his head on the floor with nothing to support his fall. Three days later he was pronounced dead.
Pujols was originally charged with manslaughter, but charges were reduced to felony battery after prosecutors took into account Cook’s behavior and actions during the incident that resulted in his death.
“Two of the primary factors were the aggressive approach the victim took toward the defendant and everyone working with the defendant,” said Hillsborough State Attorney spokesperson Grayson Kamm. “The victim repeatedly used possibly the most aggressive and offensive term in the English language.”
Pujols’ guilty plea will result in two years of house arrest followed by three years of probation, 200 hours of community service, and anger management.