A Florida man was booked on battery charges this week after he physically assaulted a McDonald’s worker during a dispute over a straw, an incident that has sparked outrage across social media.
The drama unfolded just after 6:50 p.m. at the McDonald’s restaurant at 4595 34th St S in St. Petersburg, Florida on Monday, according to witness Kinie Biandudi, who videoed the melee. The 54-second clip shows a white male customer reach across the counter and grab a Black female employee by her shirt, prompting the young woman to deliver several blows to the customer’s head.
“YES this really did happen last night for all those asking me … it all started because he wanted a straw!!!” Biandudi wrote on Facebook. “The young girl said she used to box🥊. After this fight, he came back and went behind the counter & tried to fight the manager. The guy left before the cops arrived.”
A Pinellas County Police report identified the suspect as 40-year-old Daniel Willis Taylor, who is not only accused of assaulting employee Yasmine James, but also kicking another female employee in the stomach. Taylor, whom the report lists as “transient,” reportedly became upset over the restaurant’s policy requiring customers to request drinking straws at the front.
“[The] white male customer began arguing and belittling the young Black female worker because there were no straws out,” Biandudi explained via email. “She had kindly told him they were no longer allowed to put straws out because it’s illegal.”
In the video, the customer is seen approaching the front counter before reaching over and pulling James, 20, toward him by her collar. The young woman dukes it out with the unruly patron for several seconds before fellow employees pull her from his grip as another worker rushes around the counter to restrain Taylor.
Taylor managed to escape before authorities arrived, but not before assaulting another worker inside the restaurant. Biandudi told Atlanta Black Star via email that Taylor had returned moments later and went behind the counter to pick a fight with the restaurant manager. That’s when a male worker picked him up and carried him outside, locking the door behind him. Taylor then kicked another female employee in the process.
“The defendant was being escorted out of the business by management due to him battering another employee and causing a disturbance,” the police report states. “The defendant kicked the victim in the stomach while she was standing near the exit door. There are several witnesses and the incident was captured on video.”
James reportedly called police after the attack.
Biandudi said her mother Brenda, who followed Taylor outside after the incident, captured the suspect leaving the restaurant and walking down the street as if nothing had happened. Officers arrested him a short time later.
The disturbing footage has sparked a flurry of reactions from social media users, many of whom were less than pleased with McDonald’s handling of the situation.
“This man needs to be locked up now, and then he has the nerve to call for [James] to be fired,” one Twitter user wrote. “#privilege and police should have been immediately called. The @McDonald’s managers continued to take his order and accommodate him despite him assaulting a WOMAN.”
“You’re right, he should be jailed and she needs to have her job,” another user commented. “It was self defense.”
Meanwhile, others couldn’t help but laud James’ self-defense skills.
“Gotta hand it to that girl — he grabbed her and she whacked that big sucker in the face 10 or 12 times.”
“She showed him those hands real quick tho!” wrote another. “Someone get her an MMA contract.”
In a statement, a McDonald’s spokesperson said the company is aware of the incident.
“Our highest priority is always the safety and well-being of our employees and customers at our restaurants,” spokesman Khim Aday said in an email. “We have been in contact with the police department and are fully cooperating with their investigation.”
Corporal Dan DiFrancesco from Pinellas County Sheriff’s office confirmed with Atlanta Black Star via email that Taylor remains in jail. His bond was set at $500 for each battery count.
As for James, she is still employed by the fast food chain but is currently on paid leave.