ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — A 40-year-old man was arrested and charged with battery after an incident at a McDonald's in St. Petersburg. 

  • Daniel Willis Taylor, 40 is facing two battery charges 
  • Witnesses said Taylor used obscene language before demanding a straw
  • Affidavit: Taylor also kicked another employee before being forced out
  • Employee hired attorney

St. Petersburg police said Daniel Willis Taylor reached over the counter and grabbed employee Yasmine James by the shirt. 

The incident, which happened on December 31, 2018 at the restaurant located at 4595 34th Street South, was witnessed by several people and captured on cell phone video.

Witnesses said Taylor went to the counter and used obscene language demanding a straw. After James put the straw on his tray, witnesses say he demanded another one. That’s when video a customer shot shows Taylor grabbing the worker over the counter.

James responded by punching him several times until he let go. Police say after that, Taylor went behind the counter and the store manager walked him out of the store.

A witness, Brenda Biandudi, spoke with the woman.

"She mentioned to me that she used to box," Biandudi said.

Police said Taylor, of Clearwater, also battered another employee as he was being escorted out of the restaurant. 

According to the affidavit, Taylor kicked Tateona Bell in the stomach while she was standing near the exit door. 

After police arrived at the McDonald's, they received a call for an unarmed robbery at 1800 34th Street S., where they found Taylor and recognized him from the video at McDonald's. 

Taylor was taken into custody and charged with two counts of simple battery and is being held on a $1000 bond. 

Legal action ahead?

Daniel Willis Taylor, 40 is facing two battery charges after police say he attacked a McDonald’s employee over a straw. (Pinellas County Jail)

The St. Petersburg branch of the NAACP released a statement Wednesday afternoon about what happened.

The organization said police levied the "appropriate charges" but said the manager and other employees "demonstrated a blatant disregard for Ms. Jones', an African American female's safety" and that it will "conduct a further review of the matter."

In addition to possible further action by the NAACP, James hired Attorney Michele Rayner-Goolsby, who in a statement pointed to the fact that no other McDonald's employee immediately stepped in to defend her client.

“While Taylor was arrested, the McDonald’s corporation has yet to release a statement about the incident and has placed Ms. James on leave," the statement read in part. "This case is a clear example of how white privilege and male privilege too often leave Black women alone to defend themselves in the face of harm. I’m grateful that Ms. James has entrusted me with her case; she’s not alone in the fight anymore.”

James released her own statement in conjunction with her attorney's public comment:

“I am not only physically hurt, but I am emotionally hurt that I was left to defend myself even as I was surrounded by my co-workers and other bystanders,” James said. “I am so grateful for the outpouring of support I have received from all around the country. I am aware this type of violence happens to women, especially Black women, everyday."

Later Wednesday evening, McDonald's did release a statement: 

"Our highest priority is always the safety and well-being of our employees and customers at our restaurants," said McDonald's Spokesperson Keisha Boyd. "We have been in contact with the police department and are fully cooperating with their investigation."