How do you transform the petty theft of some soda from a McDonald’s into a felony robbery charge? You (allegedly) hit the manager with your car.
At first blush, it may appear that the police are wasting their time pursuing charges against the alleged soda robber, 18-year-old Cody Morris. And plenty of people who read the story on 4029TV have strong feelings about the case.
Posting on the Springdale Police Department’s Facebook page, comments ran the gamut from “the employees are the stupider of the bunch” to “This is so dumb… It was soda, who cares!” and “Hope he gets convicted.”
But according to the letter of the law, Cody turned what could’ve just been a case of youthful stupidity into a felony charge when he invited violence into the mix.
The news station, which suffered some criticism from the department for its “inaccurate” portrayal of the case, originally reported that the teen was arrested for “putting soda inside a water cup.”
According to this telling of events, the manager called the police to report that three customers ordered water at the drive-thru. The group went inside McDonald’s, dumped the waters, filled the cups with soda, and tried to take off with the free drinks in hand.
But the very dedicated manager was having none of that; he got two of the three suspects to dump their pilfered sodas, but Morris allegedly refused. The manager pressed the case and ended up being hit by a car a couple times in the process.
The youth was arrested not far from the McDonald’s and now faces a charge of felony robbery and headed off to jail.
It’s not clear what motivated the youths to commit this strange crime. Not to mention the fact (as Raw Story pointed out) that pop is extremely cheap at McDonald’s: a large is $1.49, with free refills.
A bit peeved with the news station’s headlines (“Police: Man arrested for putting soda in water cup at Springdale McDonald’s”), the department spoke out on Facebook to provide a more accurate and detailed account of the felony charge.
Victims and witnesses have provided the details of the story, according to the department. As recounted by the media, the men went to the drive-thru to order three large waters. They went inside the McDonald’s, poured the water out, and filled the cups with soda.
Evidently, they weren’t very sly about it, because employees caught them pretty quickly. Two of the three suspects poured out the drinks when asked to by the staff. Morris chose to leave the restaurant, went into the parking lot, and got behind the wheel of a car.
Not resigned to give up, staff followed and positioned themselves behind the vehicle to keep Morris from leaving. And this is where the felony charge comes in: he allegedly backed up the vehicle and hit one of the crew. This person then tried to wrench the keys out of the ignition, and the driver struck him. He pulled his hand away and was hit by the car a second time.
The vehicle, with Morris inside, was located immediately. The news station reported that he was spotted at a nearby bowling alley. Now, he’s been slapped with a criminal charge. So why a felony? The police explained that, too.
“The theft became a robbery when the alleged suspect allegedly used force to resist apprehension by the store employees.”
Another question on plenty of people’s minds is why the employees went through such trouble over a cup of soda. Well, under Arkansas law, they had every right to “detain the alleged suspect,” a decision that was “entirely up to” them.
“[W]e never encourage anyone to put themselves in harm’s way.”
Sadly, an employee at Walmart recently put himself in harm’s way when he witnessed a theft in progress. Jaseramie Dion “JD” Ferguson stopped a customer stealing TVs and was shot to death.
[Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images]