ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – There was a verdict, Thursday, in the trial of a St. Louis man accused of beating the manager of a Chesterfield McDonald’s with a garden rake. The manager lost an eye as a result of the beating.
St. Louis County Circuit Judge, Nellie Ribaudo, found Kendell Cooks, 38, guilty of smashing the victim’s car window with a rake, then beating him with it.
“A weapon was used, a rake,” said Sam Alton, chief of staff for prosecutor Wesley Bell.
“The victim was in his car. Mr. Cooks used the rake to assault the victim. In the process, the victim lost his eye. It was a very dangerous crime, a life-threatening crime.”
In her verdict, the judge noted the victim “removed his prosthetic eye to show the court” during the June 14th bench trial, demonstrating the severity of his injuries.
The attack happened in January of 2019 at the McDonald’s on Olive near Woods Mill. The manager was sitting in his vehicle near the trash dumpster during a work break, according to court documents.
He had earlier fired Cooks’ daughter for using inappropriate language in front of customers and not wearing proper work attire. Cooks claimed the manager shoved his daughter out the restaurant door, fueling his rage when he went to the McDonald’s about 90 minutes later and grabbed the rake from near the dumpster.
However, video from the McDonald’s shows the manager stumbled; there may have been a slight, inadvertent bump, but no one shoved anybody, according to the judge.
Evidence photos show blood and broken glass inside the victim’s vehicle. Cooks swung the rake with enough force to puncture the victim’s door.
The defense argued Cooks had “adequate cause” and that the victim was intoxicated while at work but the judge found him guilty of assault 1st, armed criminal action, and misdemeanor property damage.
Prosecutors point to the case as a commitment to justice even through the delays of the pandemic.
“Once you cross that line and there’s violence involved, that’s a case that somebody’s either going to end up pleading guilty to or it’s going to go to trial but it’s not going to be dismissed,” Alton said.
Cooks shook his head after the judge read the verdict. He faces a potential prison term of 30 years when he’s sentenced next month.