A Florida McDonald's customer was caught on video getting violent with a restaurant employee on New Year's Eve — and allegedly after he was told of a ban on plastic straws.
St. Petersburg Police said customer Daniel Taylor and employee Yasmine James "got into a verbal argument about straws" when Taylor "reached over the counter and grabbed" James, "who defended herself by punching Taylor in the face as he held on to her shirt's collar."
After the attack, the suspect pointed his finger at the worker and said "I want her ass fired right now" after which a manager finished preparing the customer's order, WTSP-TV reported.
"You're fixing to go to jail," the attacked employee replied.
Police said Taylor continued to yell at employees when the manager asked him to leave the restaurant. Police added that Taylor kicked employee Tateona Bell in the stomach as she stood near the exit door.
Plastic straw ban?
Customer Brenda Biandudi recorded video of the altercation and said it all started when Taylor, 41, found no straws at the condiment bar and began screaming at employees, WFTS-TV reported.
"He was yelling and walking toward the counter, and the young lady behind the counter told him that it's the law now that we're not allowed to have straws in the lobby," Biandudi added to the station.
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The new law, which took effect January 1 in St. Petersburg says restaurants can't have straws out. Instead, customers must request the straw. In 2020, plastic straws will no longer be allowed in restaurants at all and businesses will have to find an alternative.
"They started exchanging words laced with profanity, and he said there's no such law that exists, and she was saying, 'Yes it is a law,'" Biandudi recalled to the station.
Bans on plastic straws to cut back on waste, particularly in the world's oceans, has been a hot topic of late.
What does McDonald's have to say?
McDonalds wouldn't allow its employees to talk about the incident but issued the following statement, WFTS said:
Our highest priority is always the safety and well-being of our employees and customers at our restaurants. We have been in contact with the police department and are fully cooperating with their investigation.
McDonald's on Thursday didn't immediately respond to TheBlaze's request for comment regarding why straws apparently weren't available in the lobby when the ban on them hadn't yet gone into effect.
What happened to the customer?
Shortly after the McDonald's incident, WTSP said there was a report of an unarmed robbery at a Shell station, and arriving officers recognized Taylor from video recorded at the McDonald's. Taylor was arrested and charged with two counts of simple battery, the station said.
Daniel TaylorImage source: St. Petersburg Police Department
What happened to the McDonald's employee?
WFTS said its reporters spoke to James — the employee attacked in the video — who said she wasn't fired over the incident, contrary to rumors on social media.
Biandudi told the station she believes James handled things appropriately. "She had to do what she was doing. She's a petite girl, and I just felt she did the right thing," she said.