Charges dropped for cook in NYC McDonald's fight

December 2, 2011 5:06:54 PM PST
A grand jury dismissed all charges Friday against a McDonald's worker accused of beating two irate customers with a metal rod in a fight caught on videotape.

Jailed since the Oct. 13 confrontation, Rayon McIntosh was expected to be released late Friday or early Saturday. Meanwhile, the grand jury will continue to weigh charges against the two customers, Rachel Edwards and Denise Darbeau.

McIntosh maintained he was only defending himself in the fracas at a McDonald's in Greenwich Village. But the women's lawyer said McIntosh used unjustifiable force.

The women, both 24, took offense after a cashier sought to check to make sure that a $50 bill they'd presented was real, a witness testified at a hearing in October. McIntosh, 31, who was working as a cook that night, became involved as he brought some food to the counter.

McIntosh's lawyer, Theodore Herlich, said Darbeau hit McIntosh in the face, and he swiped back at her. Then Darbeau vaulted over the counter, and Edwards walked around it, both threatening to attack McIntosh, his lawyer said.

Another customer's video shows the women going behind the counter, and then McIntosh grabbing a metal rod used to clean grills and hitting the women, even after they were on the floor.

"He didn't know what damage they planned to do to him," said Herlich, who said the women continued trying to get up. "He was at work. He wasn't looking for trouble."

But the women's lawyer, Harold Baker, said they were the unarmed victims of a vicious attack by a man with a history of violence.

McIntosh was released from prison in March, having served about 11 years after pleading guilty to manslaughter in suburban White Plains, N.Y.

Darbeau suffered a fractured skull, broken arm and neurological damage, and Edwards' injuries included a serious cut to her face, said their lawyer, Harold Baker.

"The tragedy here is that the only people facing prosecution are two women who were hospitalized after being brutally beaten by a convicted killer," Baker said.

"I'm not saying that their behavior was entirely inappropriate, but the law does not allow someone to smash you over the head repeatedly with a metal rod for acting inappropriately."

The two were initially arraigned on misdemeanor trespassing charges, but the grand jury may be asked to consider felony burglary charges against them, Baker said.

McIntosh had faced felony assault and weapons charges. He testified before the grand jury, weeping as he discussed the White Plains case, Herlich said. Darbeau and Baker didn't testify because they weren't offered immunity from prosecution, their lawyer said.

McIntosh wasn't in court to hear the case against him had been dropped; he'd been taken back to jail before the late-afternoon court session. But some of his relatives, sitting in the audience, exclaimed, "Thank you, Jesus!" and "Hallelujah!"