Fast Food Fury – Not so Happy Meals in Florida

June 9, 2022 Criminal Defense, Violent Crimes

Convenience is ideal for all consumers in the U.S. Within American culture is the large number of fast-food restaurants that dominate in every state. Florida has its own share of fast-food establishments, which usually results in people getting affordable food, and fast.

Most of the time, individuals who order inside eat their food, and leave. However, there are instances in which things go wrong. Whether the food order was incorrect, an employee came off as rude, or the customer was simply having a bad day.

What happens when a fight breaks out over a fast-food order? Believe it or not, you can get arrested over an altercation in a fast-food restaurant. This is especially true if the argument turns violent. We will cover several cases of criminal charges resulting from fast-food orders gone wrong, along with the most recent case in which police are still in search of the suspects.

Charges from Fast Food Incidents in Florida

Florida is not unfamiliar with customers getting out of hand in fast-food restaurants. Although the sole purpose of getting fast-food is for ease and convenience, there have been multiple instances over the years where one mess up leads to total chaos—even resulting in criminal charges. The following is a list of several cases of customers facing various criminal charges from a fast-food incident:

  • Third-degree felony – In May 2021, a 77-year-old resident of The Villages was arrested in an alleged racial tirade after throwing a Whopper at a Burger King employee. Judith Ann Black became enraged when the tomato on her burger was cut too thick. Black confronted the employee and began shouting at her. The employee attempted to calm Black down, saying she was unable to help her if Black did not stop shouting.

 lack then threw the rest of her burger at the back of the employee who had started to walk away. The 77-year-old then proceeded to yell, “Shut up you stupid black b*tch.” Black went on to use the racial slur of the “N” word and then stormed out of the fast-food establishment. Another employee caught Black’s license plate and police were able to track her down. What would have only been a misdemeanor battery charge was enhanced to a third-degree felony, due to Black’s racial language. Under Florida Statute Section 775.085, Florida’s hate crime statute reclassifies a misdemeanor or felony degree of an offense if there was clear evidence of prejudice.

  • Felony burglary with battery – In March 2022, a man in Panama City was arrested for attacking a teen employee. The incident began earlier in the day when Alan Sjoken’s wife was refused a refund for a burger she had already eaten. Sjoken later told police that his wife demanded a refund after seeing an employee perform an act that led her to believe the fast-food establishment was mishandling the food.

 Later that evening, Sjoken went to the restaurant with his wife to attempt to receive a refund once again. The husband was demanding to know which employee was refusing to give his wife a refund but never received an answer. Sjoken refused to leave the premises, threatened the employees, and then his behavior escalated towards violence when he tried to break into the employee-only door. Several employees blocked his attempt at gaining entrance, but he then returned to the front of the store and jumped over the counter.

Sjoken repeatedly punched one of the teen employees in the head, face, and body. The other employees were finally able to get him off the boy and the couple fled the restaurant. Sjoken was later arrested in his home and charged with felony burglary with battery committed therein and two misdemeanor counts of battery.

  • Aggravated AssaultOne of the more viral fast-food criminal cases Florida saw was from 2016 when a man was arrested for throwing a live alligator into a Wendy’s drive-thru window. Joshua James, 23, was supposedly just trying to play a prank on his friend who worked at the local restaurant. James found a baby alligator on the side of the road, lured it into the bed of his truck, and drove it to his friend’s job in Royal Palm Beach.

James entered the drive-thru to order a drink, and when he was receiving it from another employee he proceeded to throw the 3ft alligator into the open window. Luckily no one was harmed—including the alligator, who was captured by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and released back into the wild. James was charged with unlawful possession, aggravated assault, and transportation of an alligator.

Most Recent Case

On April 26th, 2022, a violent fight broke out in a Tampa Steak ‘n Shake. Two customers who had gone into the fast-food restaurant around 11:20 am became angry over a mistake with their order.

The two suspects got into a verbal altercation with one of the employees, clearly irritated with the mistake with their food. Then things turned violent when both women entered the employee-only section of the Steak ‘n Shake. The suspects started to hit the employee repeatedly, with closed fists on her face and head.

The Steak ‘n Shake employee attempted to defend herself as the fight moved into the restaurant lobby, but she soon fell to the ground which resulted in the two suspects kicking her in the head. After kicking her multiple times, one of the women pulled out a black handgun from her bag. She threatened to shoot the employee, but then she and the other woman fled the lobby and left in their vehicle.

Posted in the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office’s Facebook page, the authorities are still in search of the two suspects who caused such a violent outbreak in the local Steak ‘n Shake. The employee ended up in the hospital, suffering from a concussion, contusions, and lacerations to the forehead, upper lip, wrist, and left knee.

It is likely that if the two suspects are found, they would face charges of aggravated battery, potentially a felony charge since one woman pulled out a gun on the employee.

HCSO Sheriff Chad Chronister gave the following comment regarding the incident:

“There is no excuse for these two suspects to have enacted the amount of physical damage and fear to an employee who was just trying to do her job. From fisticuffs to handcuffs, these suspects will be put away. We will not tolerate violence in our community.”

The HCSO ask that if anyone knows about the incident or the suspects’ whereabouts, they contact the office at (813) 247-8200. To remain anonymous, call CrimeStoppers of Tampa Bay at 1-800-873-TIPS (8477).

Finding a Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida

Of course, no one is ever happy to receive an incorrect meal or that is not up to your standards. However, that doesn’t give an excuse to get aggravated with the staff of a restaurant. While some individuals may think it is fine to shout at employees in a fast-food establishment, it can actually lead to you getting in trouble with the law. This is especially true if things turn violent.

If you or a loved one have been accused of a crime in a fast-food restaurant in Florida, make sure you prioritize reaching out to a skilled attorney in your area. Don Pumphrey and his team at Pumphrey Law Firm have experience representing clients all over the state and will make it their top effort to strategize a strong defense to your case and work towards ensuring your freedom. For a free consultation call (850) 681-7777 or leave an online message.

Written by Karissa Key

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