Chicago Man Arrested For Spitting In The Coffee Of A Police Officer At Dunkin’ Donuts

Now consider the three charges in North Carolina: subjecting a law enforcement officer to bodily fluid, purposely tampering with a law enforcement officer’s drink and creating a hazardous environment.

I previously expressed surprise over the North Carolina charges. The Chicago charges are more predictable in these cases. We have seen the use of bodily fluids as a form of battery in attacks on police officers.

One question that I had was whether the battery would be elevated for aggravated battery under Section 5/12-2:

§ 12-2.  Aggravated assault.

(a) Offense based on location of conduct.  A person commits aggravated assault when he or she commits an assault against an individual who is on or about a public way, public property, a public place of accommodation or amusement, or a sports venue.

(b) Offense based on status of victim.  A person commits aggravated assault when, in committing an assault, he or she knows the individual assaulted to be any of the following:

(4.1) A peace officer, fireman, emergency management worker, or emergency medical services personnel:

(i) performing his or her official duties;

(ii) assaulted to prevent performance of his or her official duties;  or

(iii) assaulted in retaliation for performing his or her official duties.

The language appears mandatory but there is the key qualification of “performing his or her official duties.”  Is getting coffee while on duty part of his official duties?  The law appears directed as interference with a police activity so, as a criminal defense attorney, I would argue that it does not.

However, this case would seem an example of “retaliation for performing his or her official duties.”

Notably, the Chicago charges do not try to use the same COVID angle in North Carolina. In neither case was the person known to be COVID positive, but the prosecutors still used the pandemic as a foundation for the charges.  Even without COVID contamination, it could be argued that saliva carries other dangers but those would also seem to depend on the defendant’s health status.

What is interesting is also the comparison to product tampering laws.  These laws are designed to not only punish culprits who do things like post videos of licking ice cream in stores. It is also to product stores and businesses from the loss of sales from consumers who are concerned with the safety and purity of products. Such acts can devastate a manufacturer or even an industry.  Notably, in this case, the police said that they will no longer use Dunkin’ Donuts.  That is precisely the reaction that these laws seek to avoid.  However, these defendants allegedly committed these acts with the intent of that the contamination would not be public. Such acts are committed to secretly take joy from knowing that the officer drank contaminated coffee. That makes it different from many cases like the ice cream licking cases where the culprits post videos of the act.

In Illinois the tampering charge also would raise the foregoing question of the actual risk from saliva:

Sec. 12-4.5. Tampering with food, drugs or cosmetics.
(a) A person who knowingly puts any substance capable of causing death or great bodily harm to a human being into any food, drug or cosmetic offered for sale or consumption commits tampering with food, drugs or cosmetics.
(b) Sentence. Tampering with food, drugs or cosmetics is a Class 2 felony.
(Source: P.A. 96-1551, eff. 7-1-11.)

It is not clear if saliva in a hot cup of coffee present a “capacity” (rather than a threat) of “great bodily harm.”

The Chicago charges are, in my view, a better avenue to avoid such appellate issues.  In the end, these are all serious charges, as they should be.

60 thoughts on “Chicago Man Arrested For Spitting In The Coffee Of A Police Officer At Dunkin’ Donuts”

  1. He’s a 25 year-old white male working at Dunkin‘ Donuts. He feels like a loser and he’s angry at anyone he perceives as an authority figure, because in his mind, they’re responsible for his failings, not him. But I have no sympathy for these companies that lose business. The corporations could install security cameras and make clear to employees that management regularly reviews the videos and anyone caught tampering with food products will be reported to the police and fired. They could also position their coffee equipment in such a way that the actions of the employees are clearly visible to the customers.

    1. That’s a good idea, Tin. It’s pretty sad that this would be required, but it does seem like food and drink prep need to be observable by customers.

      Frankly, cops should brown bag it, or be very careful selecting establishments to get food or coffee.

      Back the Blue.

  2. I have such a visceral reaction to this kind of thing, that I can’t even read about it – can’t even look at the criminal. I absolutely loathe people who do this. They’re like roaches.

    1. Come to think of it, it would be easy to make him worry about everything he eats and drinks even if not contaminated.

  3. Jonathan: When someone spits in the coffee cup of a police officer, a friend of yours in Chicago, that’s a bridge too far and the guy should be severely punished because it involves “serious charges”. I thought you preferred to talk about “rioting” and “arson” in Portland. You know we have entered a twilight zone when a distinguished conservative professor of law and experienced criminal defense attorney thinks this is a noteworthy case to discuss. If we want to talk about really “serious charges”, those involving life and death, why don’t you discuss what Donald Trump has done with the coronavirus pandemic? In a literary sense he has been “spitting” in the faces of millions of Americans since January when the virus started its deadly march across the country. Up until about a week ago Trump refused to wear a face mask, contrary to the advice of his own medical experts like Dr. Fauci. His devout followers followed suit and what happened? Herman Cain died. And Republican members of Congress who slavishly follow Trump, like Louis Gohmert, have tested positive and probably passed the infection on to Democratic colleagues. In states that followed Trump’s order to re-open their economies they have experienced a huge surge in coronavirus infections and deaths. We now have over 150,000 deaths and the CDC has projected the number will climb to as many as 168,000 by August 22. Trump has told public schools to re-open exposing millions of children to potential infection and then passing it on to family members. In many other ways Trump has made the pandemic worse. He has apparently decided that holding onto power is more important than the health and safety of the American people. When a person engages in actions that lead to serious injury or death, and ignores the warnings of public health officials, he should be subject to really “serious charges”–like criminal negligence! But I guess spitting in the coffee cup of a police officer is more noteworthy than addressing Trump’s threat not only to our democracy, our economy but also to the lives of millions of Americans. Distraction and diversion. That’s the game that is being played here.

    1. It’s Turley’s blog – he gets to pick the topics. Don’t like the topic, start your own blog or go find some TDS blog where you an discuss everything Trump ad nauseam.

      1. TIN: They must be entered into a contest on “Turn Anyone’s Crime into Donald Trump in 50 Words or Less”. So now Trump has been been “spitting in the faces of Americans”. Notice that Dennis McIntyre says “in a literary sense” because the use of “literally” at the lefty watering holes has been ridiculed from “Trump is literally Hitler” so instead, DM resists the urge to say that Trump was “literally” spitting in the faces of Americans and abuses the phrase “in a literal sense”. Or maybe he has a comic book somewhere and is drawing on that literary reference.

    2. In what world DM, does using the phrase “in a literary sense” make any sense in your weak screed?

  4. Excellent arguments put forward by Prof. T. Brings to mind, skills of prosecutors and the George Soros campaign donations talked about in public to candidates for prosecutorial positions….candidates that may be extremely liberal.

    1. I have a cousin living in Alliance, Ohio who makes the same boast. Knowing him, I’d wager a four digit sum he actually did do that.

      1. Absurd…I was naive and never knew there were people capable of doing something that disgusting. After hearing about Jesse Jackson, it certainly made me bend over backward not to offend waitstaff at restaurants.

  5. I recall a recording personality about 5 years ago was caught liking doughnuts on a countertop and telling her escort she hated Americans. I don’t think anything came of that either.

    1. Ariana Grande, from Australia. I remember many yearsr ago that ground crews in an Australian airport refused, after Sinatra described Australian journalists as “bums, parasites, f*gs, and buck-and-a-half hookers”, to service the aircraft carrying Frank Sinatra long ago., That inspired a punishment that fiit the crime – putting Ariana Grande on the first flight back to Australia, and refusing her leave to re-enter the USA, much lless to make money singing in our country, since she hates it so much.

    2. Ariana Grande, from Australia. I remember that ground crews in an Australian airport refused, after Sinatra described Australian journalists as “bums, parasites, f*gs, and buck-and-a-half hookers”, to service the aircraft carrying him., That made me think of a punishment that fiit the crime – putting Ariana Grande on a flight back to Australia and refusing her leave to re-enter the USA,or to sing professionally here, since she hates America so much.

  6. JT covers all the “news” wingnuts want to read and saves them from reality yet again.

    It is amazing that only liberal cable news shows are at times wrong or over the top and inconsequential street thugs doing bad things are always from the left.

    1. there is a rash of this criminal conduct of the sort in Chicago. the fact is the ANTIFA freaks have advocated this thing online quite a bit and the police have been warned about it and that’s why the cop looked first. it needs to be punished severely., it is a form of battery on a police officer and that attacks the very foundations of law and order.

  7. Someone needs to retaliate against the punks parents or wife. An urdTay crammed in the face. This guy needs one too.

    1. I see Prof. Turley’s concern about bringing charges against this guy that’ll hold up to judicial review (just expressing contempt for the perp in court’s a waste of everyone’s time). A well-crafted prosecution might serve as a useful tool for other jurisdictions and deter this kind of action. It won’t prevent acts of hatred against police officers, because considerable money funds the propagation of that hatred.

  8. It’s time to start acknowledging that for 30 years, liberals have taught our children to be hateful, destructive idiots. This disgusting young man is just proof that it has worked. Time to out the many liberal and revolutionary educators as the source of our problems, not the solution.

  9. What would Tail Gunner Sen. Joe McCarthy have to say about the shape the USA’s in today, likely he would have said: I tried to warn everyone decades back why this nation had to destroy all those godless Commie type ba$trads decades ago, but No, many people wouldn’t listen! Now they’ve bred through the rafters.

    Do you feel your Shame now!

  10. It was much more than “saliva” contaminating that cup. The material appeared to be much thicker, consistent with mucous from the sinus cavity which is not only far grosser but also would be much more likely to contain the COVID-19 virus, assuming the person was infected.

    1. Right but you see COVID is only a problem if it’s being used to keep conservatives home and scared, and cops off duty or scared. If it actually might help society’s foundation of law and order, then, it is suddenly not a concern

      Understand the Democrat party leadership is responsible for these political acts of subversion, which are tiny little acts of terrorism in their own way, and vote accordingly

  11. I recently saw a piece of survey research which reported that expressions of support for “Black Lives Matter” (an asinine and spurious cause) among people under 35 were endorsed by a majority of the young men and a 2.5:1 majority among young women. Fifteen years ago, you read of stories of heroism in Iraq and Afghanistan and you asked where we came by these young men. Now you read stories of this and you ask how (collectively) we raised a set of cohorts in which a certain vicious stupidity is so prevalent. This will not end well.

  12. Try spitting in someone else’s COVID mask if you are unsure of whether spitting in a cop’s cup might risk bodily harm.

    Civilization needs to defend our police from assault.

    Yes, the officer was distracted from performing other duties by having to deal with this bodily insult and risk to his overall health. You try drinking someone’s random spit, John.

    This concept that such a vile attack on a cop’s literal innards should not have the book thrown at it is why we’re in this civilizational mess.

    Civilization has to be defended in depth against psychopathological assaults of the body and dignity of the brave few who defend people like Professor Turley every day…

    The law should not be created on the fly, but it should be most vigorously enforced in cases where law enforcement itself is being violated and attacked.

    1. Oh my, I looked at the clock..it was actually 6:37pm today, when I read JVL’s post and had the first hardy laugh of the day. Not too bad for a Monday. “Try spitting in someone else’s COVID mask if you are unsure of whether spitting in a cop’s cup might risk bodily harm.” I wish I had written that.

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