ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFTS) — A St. Petersburg man spent New Years Day in a jail cell after police say he attacked a McDonald’s employee for not giving him a straw.
Yasmine James was behind the counter of the a local McDonald’s when St. Pete police say Daniel Taylor, 41, forcefully grabbed her and pulled her up onto the counter. James defended herself by punching Taylor in the face as he held on to her shirt’s collar.
Brenda Biandudi, another customer in the restaurant at the time, pulled her phone out as she saw the argument escalating, seconds before Taylor grabbed James.
Biandudi says the argument started when Taylor went over to the condiment bar to grab a straw. When he noticed there were none, “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,” she said.
The new law, which took effect January 1 in St. Petersburg, says restaurants can’t have straws out. Instead, customers must request a 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,” said Biandudi.
The man came back into the store and yelled at the manager. The police report says Taylor kicked another employee in the stomach on his way out.
Taylor was arrested and charged with two counts of simple battery.
McDonalds wouldn’t allow their employees to talk about the incident but sent a statement:
“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.”
“I don’t know what was in his mind, but I just hope he gets the help that he needs,” said Biandudi, who believes James handled herself appropriately. “She had to do what she was doing. She’s a petite girl, and I just felt she did the right thing.”