Daniel Taylor, the man seen in viral video attacking a female McDonald’s employee in a New Year’s Eve melee, wriggled his way out of additional charges after police say he made false claims about being robbed.
Taylor, 40, faces two counts of simple battery after snatching 20-year-old employee Yasmine James by the collar during a dispute over a straw at a St. Petersburg McDonald’s. His assault was met with flurry of punches from James — who says she comes from a boxing family — and led to him being booted from the restaurant, during which process he kicked another employee on the way out.
The homeless man was reportedly angry over the store’s policy of issuing drinking straws to customers only upon request — a change sparked by the city’s eco-friendly ordinance enacted earlier this year limiting the use of plastic drinking straws.
Taylor was later arrested by St. Petersburg Police when authorities responded to reports of an unarmed robbery, the Tampa Bay Times reported. According to police, a 911 call was made about a white male being robbed by a group of Black people but couldn’t remember details of the incident.
When officers arrived, however, Taylor claimed he was the victim of an unarmed robbery and was hit several times by a Black woman, department spokeswoman Sandra Bentil told Atlanta Black Star. Taylor was immediately recognized as the suspect in the McDonald’s incident and was arrested. However, the suspect isn’t charged with making a false report and only faces the current battery charges, Bentil confirmed.
“The investigation is still open,” she said. “The full report cannot be released to the public until the investigation is completed.”
Police wouldn’t disclose whether Taylor is the same person who made the 911 call, though it is believed he is. James said she also called police following the incident.
James has since hired Florida-based attorney Michele Rayner-Goolsby to take her case, according to the Tampa Bay Times. Rayner-Goolsby has also represented the family of Markeis McGlockton, the Black man fatally shot in a convenience store parking lot last year in a case that reignited outrage over the state’s controversial “stand your ground” law.
Taylor remains in custody at the Pinellas County Jail on a $1,000 bond.