LAKELAND – The image is crystal clear: a woman at a McDonald’s drive through, getting into a dispute with the restaurant’s manager.
Then the woman in the vehicle tosses the food at the employee.
And that single act landed 39-year-old Simone Paolercio of Lakeland in jail, charged with battery.
As Donna C. Wood, public information officer for the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, was quick to note, it’s never a good idea to do something like this when the restaurant has a surveillance camera in there that captures every moment for a jury to see.
Even worse, Wood said, is that Paolercio is a teacher at Lakeland Highlands Middle School and, Wood added, should have known better.
“You don’t do these things, period — whether there is a camera there or not,” Wood said. “That is unacceptable behavior for a responsible adult.”
So how did a local educator wind up booked in the Polk County Jail on a battery charge?
It happened around 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 17, when a Polk County Sheriff’s Office deputy responded to a call from an employee at the McDonald’s restaurant at 4721 S. Florida Ave. in Lakeland.
The deputy spoke to workers at the restaurant, who reported that Paolercio had come to the drive through and ordered $20 worth of food.
The drive-through window attendant handed Paolercio her food items, and then they got into a dispute over the order.
The workers told deputies that Paolercio demanded a refund. After the manager came over and spoke to her, and when he refused to provide her with a refund, Paolercio threw the food through the drive through window, striking the window attendant in the face and chest. She also threw some food through the drive through window, onto the restaurant floor, before driving off in her car.
The incident was captured on store video surveillance. The four-minute long video shows Paolercio arguing with the window attendant, and then the manager, before throwing the food. The manager is seen holding the receipt for the food while arguing with Paolercio.
Regardless of what the dispute was about, Wood said, customers don’t have the right to throw food at someone else.
“You need to be able to handle yourself in a professional manner, and this individual did not,” Wood said. “This individual told us she was a teacher at Lakeland Highlands Middle School, and that is certainly not the example she should set for her students.”
After the deputy took down the report, Paolercio was found at her home on Scott Lake Road, and arrested without incident.
Wood said this is the first time she can recall an arrest from an incident at a local drive through.
“I certainly have never written a news release like this before,” she said. “This is the first time I have ever heard of a person slinging food at any other person.”
But it was enough to get Paolercio booked into the Polk County Jail, facing a battery complaint, Wood said.
”That is what we charged her with, a charge of battery,” Wood said.
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