An employee of a Popeyes outlet in Columbia, Tennessee, has been charged with aggravated assault after a video circulated on social media showing a woman being thrown to the ground outside the store.
Columbia police said Friday that they had arrested 29-year-old Deriance Ra’Shaiel Hughes in connection with the alleged assault. Police urged anyone with direct information about the incident to come forward.
Conflicting accounts of what led to the alleged attack have emerged in the aftermath of the incident.
The victim’s attorney, Rocky McElhaney, said his 55-year-old client had gone to Popeyes on Tuesday to receive a refund after she discovered that she had been charged twice for an earlier order.
“When she got there she was treated with hostility and anger from the manager,” McElhaney told the Nashville Tennessean. “There were words back and forth.”
The husband of a Popeyes employee told WSMV-TV that the woman in question had been aggressive when speaking with restaurant staff and had used the n-word.
McElhaney did not seem to know if his client used the racial slur.
“My client was called ‘an ugly broke-down cracker,’” the attorney told the Tennessean. “If she said something she should not have said in retaliation and the heat of the moment we do not condone that and she regrets that, but it does not give someone the right to break somebody’s body almost in half.”
A cellphone video of the altercation that ensued shows a group of people walking out of the restaurant behind the woman before a man wearing a red Popeyes uniform grabs her, lifts her up and slams her body onto the ground.
WARNING: The video below contains violent content.
McElhaney said his client suffered nine fractures, including six cracked ribs and a broken knee. She had to undergo surgery, he said.
Popeyes has recently been in the news for all the wrong reasons. A man was fatally stabbed in Maryland earlier this month during an altercation allegedly about the highly coveted chicken sandwich. In September, an armed group of people rushed a Popeyes restaurant in Houston after they were told the chicken sandwich had sold out.