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“Shut up, slave!”: A spilled Starbucks drink in Chicago leads to sidewalk fight, hate-crime charges

By: AMY B. WANG, The Washington Post
September 14, 2017 Updated: September 14, 2017 at 7:08 am
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AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

Felony hate crime charges have been filed against a man who was caught on video unleashing a racist tirade and turning violent outside a Chicago Starbucks three months ago, officials said.

William Boucher, 24, was originally charged with misdemeanor battery June 6 after he “became irate” when someone spilled a drink on him inside the coffee shop, police said. Boucher’s rant ended in his spitting and throwing a punch at apparent strangers outside the Starbucks, sending one man to the hospital, police said.

In August, a judge issued a no-bond arrest warrant for four new felony hate crime charges and four upgraded felony aggravated battery charges against Boucher, according to the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office. Boucher was booked into the Cook County jail Saturday, with bond set at $50,000, jail records showed.

If convicted, Boucher will face probation or two to five years of prison for each of the aggravated battery charges, and one to three years of prison for each of the hate crime charges, the state’s attorney’s office said.

The June incident started inside a Starbucks in downtown Chicago, and was recorded on a cellphone camera by a local television photographer who was there at the time. In the video, a man later identified as Boucher can be heard shouting, “You’re disgusting!” and other insults in the presence of other customers and employees.

The video starts after Boucher has already begun shouting; he reportedly was enraged because someone accidentally spilled coffee on him.

The incident escalated after Boucher left the Starbucks and spit on a 30-year-old man and a 34-year-old woman outside, police said.

In additional video footage, Boucher, who is white, can be seen hurling racist insults at two black bystanders in broad daylight. He appears to be wearing a cream-colored suit that has visible drink stains.

“Shut up, slave! Do not talk to me!” Boucher yells at the two black men. “Your children are disposable vermin!”

Someone who appears to be a Starbucks employee tries to intervene in the video, but Boucher continues yelling toward one of the men, who is walking away: “Get on all fours! Do not walk off on two legs!”

Shortly after that, police said, Boucher punched a 59-year-old man without provocation. The man, who was reportedly homeless, was taken to a hospital with an eye injury, according to ABC7 News.

Bystanders detained Boucher near the Starbucks until officers arrived and arrested him, police said.

Gerald Mitchell, the 30-year-old man who was spit on and who helped detain Boucher, told the Chicago Sun-Times in July that he hoped the belligerent man learned something from the experience.

“I try to see the good in people,” Mitchell told the newspaper. “I don’t know his background. I would try to give him the benefit of the doubt. I just know it was downright wrong. Disgusting.”

A Starbucks spokeswoman told The Washington Post in June that there was “absolutely no tolerance for this type of behavior in our stores” and that they were grateful to the employee who stepped in until police arrived.

Starbucks spokesman Reggie Borges said Wednesday that the company did not have further details about Boucher’s case or whether he had a history as a “problem customer” at the downtown Chicago location, as some employees had suggested to local media.

“It goes without saying we expect a civil engagement and peaceful discourse in all of our stores, and we want to make sure all of our customers feel welcome and have a positive experience in our stores,” Borges told The Post.

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