A judge called an Illinois man a “jerk” as he convicted him of violently attacking a grocery store bagger with special needs.
Bruce Mirabella, 51, was found guilty of aggravated battery Wednesday following a four-hour bench trial, according to a press release from the DuPage County State’s Attorney. The attack happened in July when Mirabella went to Jewel-Osco, a grocery store in Bartlett, to buy booze.
“While in the checkout line, Mirabella punched the victim, a bagger who has special needs, in the face and then kicked him in his left back area before fleeing the store,” the state’s attorney said in their release.
“For reasons still unclear, Mr. Mirabella violently attacked an innocent man at work,” DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin stated Wednesday. “Mr. Mirabella’s appalling behavior is magnified when considering the fact that the victim in this case is a special needs individual who, while working as a bagger at Jewel, posed no threat to the defendant.”
Berlin previously called the incident “outrageous.”
The 27-year-old bagger, who has Asperger’s, testified against Mirabella during his brief trial, The Chicago Tribune reports. He said that during the day in question, Mirabella told him that he was old enough to “kick the asses” of both him and his coworker, a 23-year-old cashier. The bagger testified that the threatening comment confused him but he tried to approach it with kindness. He said he walked toward Mirabella with the intention of patting him on the shoulder and wishing him a good day.
However, Mirabella punched him in the face instead and kicked the bagger in the back. The grocery store employee suffered a bloody lip in the incident. The cashier was not attacked.
Mirabella was tasered as he resisted arrest at his home in Bartlett shortly after, an officer testified in court Wednesday, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Mirabella defended himself during his testimony, claiming that he acted in self-defense. He said that the kick was a martial arts move designed to create distance between himself and a threat.
DuPage County Judge Brian Telander noted in his ruling that while it’s possible that the punch could have been in perceived self-defense, the kick was not, the Chicago Tribune reports. The judge said that video surveillance footage of the store shows that the bagger had already turned away with his hands up in pain at that point.
Telander said that if he could charge Mirabella with “being a jerk,” he would definitely find him guilty.
Mirabella’s bond has been revoked and he will be sentenced on April 6.
He previously pleaded guilty to reckless homicide for a deadly crash he caused back in 1993, local outlet the Daily Herald reports. He has also previously been convicted for domestic battery in an incident with his own mother.
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