Does A Slur Justify Murder?

A black man was sentenced to house arrest last week for killing an elderly white man. Corey Pujols pleaded guilty to felony battery over the incident that occurred last year at a Florida Dunkin’ Donuts. Vonelle Cook, a 77-year-old white man, got upset with the service at the store and yelled at the staff. Pujols asked Cook to leave. The white man allegedly called the black employee the n-word. Pujols asked Cook to repeat it, which the victim reportedly did. Pujols then punched Cook in the face and the man fell down and hit his head. He was taken to the hospital where he later died of his injuries.

Pujols was initially charged with aggravated manslaughter, but he took a plea deal in which he only pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of felony battery. The judge’s full sentence imposed two years of house arrest, 200 hours of community service, and an anger management course on the perpetrator. The prosecutor’s office was satisfied with this result. “Two of the primary factors were the aggressive approach the victim took toward the defendant and everyone working with the defendant, and that the victim repeatedly used possibly the most aggressive and offensive term in the English language,” said Grayson Kamm, a spokesman for the Hillsborough State Attorney’s office. 

Andrew Warren, the Hillsborough state attorney, said that the sentence “holds the defendant accountable while considering the totality of the circumstances—the aggressive approach and despicable racial slur used by the victim, along with the defendant’s age, lack of criminal record, and lack of intent to cause the victim’s death.” Warren said Florida’s Stand Your Ground law would have also helped Pujols and a jury would have been sympathetic to his story. 

It was a messy situation and Pujols probably didn’t intend to kill Cook. But the punch resulted in the victim’s death. The victim never tried to assault the assailant either. He just used an offensive word. If the races were reversed and the victim had called the white assailant a slur or just any other insult, he would be doing jail time. The prosecutor’s office would not be defending his actions or celebrating an incredibly light sentence. To the contrary, a light sentence would be interpreted by the media as a sign of systemic racism.

The Left regularly claims the justice system disproportionately punishes blacks while whites get off easy. This is dogma among the chattering class and constantly repeated throughout the media. A recent example of this was the sentence handed down against former officer Kim Potter for the death of Daunte Wright. Like the Dunkin’ Donuts fight, the death was unintentional. Potter reached for her taser but stupidly pulled out her gun and shot Wright in the middle of him fighting with police. Potter was found guilty last month of manslaughter and the judge sentenced her to two years in jail. That sentence was derided as too lenient by Wright’s family. They said Potter’s “white woman tears” got her off easily. The prosecution wanted at least seven years in jail.

Maybe the sentence was lenient, but at least it’s jail time and the prosecution didn’t defend her behavior. The same can’t be said in the case of Corey Pujols. Potter was also a police officer involved in apprehending a disorderly suspect. Society gives officers greater leeway to deal with suspects in such situations. We don’t expect Dunkin’ Donuts managers to slug rude customers. 

There is more leniency in the justice system toward black criminals, especially if they can offer evidence of racism by their victims.

Another black man in Florida managed to get his manslaughter charges dropped in 2017 with the n-word defense. In 2012, Joni Donley beat his math tutor, David Grant, to death during an argument where the victim allegedly said the slur. Even though Donley admitted to the murder, prosecutors eventually dropped the case over the n-word defense. “The State has no competent evidence to rebut the argument that when Donley is called a ‘n-word’, he was suddenly provoked to turn and strike Mr. Grant,” the Broward County State Attorney said in a statement. 

Many other wrongdoers have tried to use this defense to their own benefit. Black tourists who assaulted an Asian hostess at a New York restaurant last year claim the victim called them the n-word. The hostess fervently denied that claim and said she was attacked after questioning the group’s proof of vaccination. The vax card factor and the victim being a minority herself will likely not help the accused in this case. But if the hostess had been white, maybe the accused would have had a better time in court.

The n-word defense has also been used to justify a mass shooting. Omar Thornton shot up a Connecticut distillery in 2010, killing nine people including himself. His family claimed he was pushed to violence by the racist work environment at the distillery where he worked. This claim was sympathetically treated by the media. It turned out to be false; Thornton chose to commit mass murder after being laid off for stealing beer kegs.

Black defendants sometimes don’t even need to prove the racism of their victims to get their charges thrown out. Devon Dunham was found not guilty last May for a 2017 murder in which he shot to death a 77-year-old white man. Dunham claimed the victim startled him as he approached the elderly man’s vehicle. That defense somehow convinced the jury he was not guilty.

Jaleel Stallings was exonerated last September for shooting at police during the George Floyd riots in Minneapolis. Stallings claimed he was acting in self-defense when he fired at officers in an armored police vehicle. He argued he didn’t know they were cops. This argument, plus the police’s use of force against him during his arrest, convinced the jury to find him not guilty.

Dayonte Resiles was set to receive a reduced manslaughter charge in December for a brutal home invasion murder. Even though the jury was convinced Resiles viciously stabbed Jill Halliburton Su to death, they felt it was wrong to send a young black man to jail for life. Vocal jurors pushed for him to be found guilty on a lesser charge that offered the opportunity for release. This was upended by the jury forewoman, who decided at the last moment that it was wrong to give Resiles light treatment. 

These cases, along with the push to eliminate sensible policing and sentencing guidelines, show how much of the system is far from disfavoring blacks. Rather, it’s creating a new situation in which criminals can get away with horrific crimes solely due to their skin color. 

This is neither fair nor just. It’s wrong to create a justification for murder just because someone called you a slur. Instead of eliminating alleged bias in the system, it just creates a privileged class that stands above the law.

About Paul Bradford

Paul Bradford is a Capitol Hill refugee now earning an honest living.

Photo: iStock/Getty Images

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