FAIRFIELD, Conn. (NewsNation Now) — Connecticut dad goes off on young employees at a smoothie shop and the resulting video is racing around the internet faster than a blender on puree.
James Iannazzo, 49, was arrested Saturday after police received multiple calls about a customer in Robeks smoothie shop in Fairfield who was throwing things, yelling at employees and refusing to leave.
The court of public opinion has already rendered its verdict with an amplified guilty, but will an actual court see it the same way?
“His actions are disturbing, and they seem to fit the charges,” criminal defense attorney April Preyar said on “Banfield.”
Police say Iannazzo made a purchase at the smoothie shop around 1 p.m. and left the store. Then, 40 minutes later, he called 911 from his home asking for an ambulance because his son was having an allergic reaction. His son was transported to an area hospital.
Police say a short time later, Iannazzo then returned to the shop and confronted employees, which led to the video.
Iannazzo now faces three charges: intimidation based on bigotry or bias (a felony), breach of peace and criminal trespass.
“The biggest problem, I don’t think are his words, I think it’s his actions,” Preyar said. “Not only does he throw the smoothie, and actually make contact with the young woman’s shoulder, but then after that, he tries to get into the back office or into the back area. And you hear him shaking the knob of the door like he’s trying to get to them. And so it is his threatening actions, in addition to the words that I think might have him in quite a bit of hot water. I’m not sure that any judge will actually find him guilty of a felony, but based on his actions, he may very well be guilty of the other two charges.”
Iannazzo has also been fired from his job as a wealth advisor with Merrill Lynch.
“When I first heard the story, I read it, I read an article so I hadn’t actually seen the video and I felt this compassion for this person,” said Melissa Scheichl, a social worker and psychotherapist who has children with allergies. “When we’re under great duress, we go into fight, flight, freeze and submit. This man from all accounts was clearly in fight.”
Still, Scheichl says, Iannazzo should have handled the situation better.
“I’m sure if you film anyone in the most, you know, traumatic moments of their life, they would look back and think, ‘I wish I had handled it differently,'” Scheichl said.
She says the experience should be a learning opportunity for both sides.
“Food service in general, doesn’t always recognize the implications of allergies,” Scheichl said. “If he had asked for peanuts, in fact, should not be in that smoothie, maybe having follow up questions that they’re trained to ask, ‘Is there an allergy?’ You know, ‘What’s the reason you’re requesting that accommodation here?'”
Preyar says Iannazzo may have a civil suit against the smoothie shop based on negligence, especially if there was no adult on the premises. It also depends on what exactly he said while ordering and the staffs’ training.
If this goes to court, Preyar believes there will be jurors who are sympathetic to both sides.
NewsNation affiliate WTNH contributed to this report.