Dunkin’ Donuts has fired multiple employees involved in a viral video that showed a homeless Syracuse man having a full pitcher of water dumped over his head, seemingly over the fact he put his head down while sitting at one of the location’s tables.
The man, who has been identified as Jeremy Dufresne, said he had gone in the store to charge his phone so he could call his mom to tell her goodnight, according to The Post-Standard, a local Syracuse paper.
After laying his head down for a minute, Dufresne said he suddenly felt a splash of water.
"He probably had some personal problems of his own and needed someone to talk to," Dufresne said of his former employee, according to the paper. "And he took it out on someone else, like me."
The video shows an unidentified Dunkin’ Donuts employee pouring a pitcher of water over Dufresne as someone can be heard laughing.
After Dufresne jumps up and grabs his wet belongings, an employee can be heard telling him, "How many times do I have to tell you to stop sleeping in here?"
He tells Dufresne he won't call the cops, but said he needed to "get out of here."
The video capturing the incident was subsequently shared on Facebook. Since being posted on Sunday, it has been viewed more than 3.7 million times.
Dufresne, who admitted that he slept outside most nights, told The Post-Standard that he wasn’t actually sleeping at the time. Rather, he was just resting his head while he did what he usually does at the location: Get warm, charge his cell phone and that particular evening, call his mom and tell her goodnight.
After the incident, the Wolak Group, which owns approximately 85 Dunkin' Donuts stores, said the employees involved had been fired.
"We were extremely disturbed by the behavior of our employees captured in the video," Kimberly Wolak, chief operating officer for the Wolak Group said in a statement, as quoted by CBS News. "It not only violated our written policies, but goes against our core values as an organization."
Wolak said the group also plans on reaching out to Dufresne to apologize.
Since the video went viral, the local community has rallied in support of Dufresne, who suffers from schizophrenia.
Two dozen demonstrators on Tuesday protested in front of the Dunkin’ Donuts where the incident took place, with some holding "Homeless Lives Matter" signs, according to NewsChannel 9 WSYR.
Dufresne said that he sleeps outside because he likes to be alone.
Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick said it's possible the employees in the incident could be charged with harassment for their role in the video, but said his office plans to speak with Dufresne to see how he would like to proceed, according to The Post Standard.
The Wolak Group did not reveal precisely how many employees were fired over the video, according to USA Today.
However the situation progresses, Fitzpatrick aired hope that the community could learn from the experience.
"Let's not allow this to become the norm," he told the paper.
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