COLUMBIA, Tenn. (WSMV/Meredith) - Police arrested a Popeyes employee after he allegedly body slammed a customer outside the restaurant in Columbia, Tennessee.
Deriance Ra'Shaiel Hughes, 29, was charged with felony aggravated assault following the incident on Tuesday.
WSMV reports that Hughes got into an argument with a 55-year-old woman inside the restaurant, and their verbal altercation spilled out into the parking lot.
Video posted to social media appears to show Hughes pick up the woman and slam her onto the ground, according to authorities.
The McElhaney Law Firm, which is representing the victim, Debra Staggs, said she suffered multiple injuries -- including nine fractures, six cracked ribs and a broken knee. She underwent surgery at Vanderbilt University Medical Center on Friday and remains hospitalized.
The firm said Staggs is a grandmother and the mother of a state trooper.
There are conflicting accounts of what led to the altercation. An employee’s husband told WSMV that Staggs, who is white, used a racial slur when the workers accidentally overcharged her for a chicken sandwich.
However, Staggs' legal team, denies she used the n-word during the dispute. The law firm said Staggs left the restaurant to check her bank account and later returned so that she could get a refund for the accidental charge. Upon re-entering the restaurant, the firm claims a manager "immediately began insulting" Staggs.
Another video posted to social media captured the moments leading up to the assault. Near the beginning of the video, a man off-camera can be heard telling Staggs she is in the wrong place to be saying the n-word. Staggs cannot be heard using the slur in that video.
The video also shows an irate Hughes screaming at Staggs, who is standing at the counter. Hughes had to be restrained by his coworkers.
The manager and another employee told Staggs multiple times to leave, saying she was costing them business. Another employee repeatedly said, "Can you exit my store, please?"
The manager told Staggs, "You got your money. Now, get out before I call the law on you and forcibly remove you." Staggs then responded: "Lady, the law is my family."
Staggs' attorneys told WSMV that their client was "confused and frightened" and tried to leave the building before being attacked.
Jeff Janssen, a Popeye’s employee, said the worker who body slammed Staggs has since been fired.
“It was uncalled for. Wasn’t no reason for that,” Janssen told WSMV.
On Friday, police responded to a second, unrelated incident outside the Columbia Popeyes.
Customer Mike Helms said he was inside the restaurant when he heard employees arguing with each other. He pulled out his cellphone and attempted to record the chaos that unfolded.
“There was a big screaming and shouting match. I broke out my phone and was going to record, and one of the workers came and grabbed my phone out of my hand,” Helms said.
He claims the worker attempted to throw his phone to the ground but failed.
Several Columbia police officers spent the afternoon sorting things out, which led to the restaurant closing early that day.
Police are still investigating the body-slamming incident and reviewing the restaurant's surveillance footage.