Man convicted of body slamming woman outside of Popeyes sentenced to four years

Local News

COLUMBIA, Tenn. (WKRN) – The man convicted of body slamming a woman outside of a Popeyes restaurant in Columbia has been sentenced, according to District Attorney Brent Cooper.

Cooper said Judge Stella Hargrove sentenced Derriance Hughes to four years in prison after he was convicted of aggravated assault charges. Four years was the maximum possible sentence, according to Cooper.

On November 5, 2019, Columbia police officers responded to the Popeyes located in the 800 block of Nashville Highway for a reported disturbance and assault.

Video captured what appears to be a woman being body slammed to the ground by a Popeyes employee, later identified as Hughes. The woman, identified as Deborah Staggs, suffered nine fractures, six broken ribs and a broken knee.

Multiple witnesses said Staggs used racial slurs inside the restaurant before the incident escalated.

“My client denies using racial slurs as she has since the beginning, and right now she’s on pain medication and going through a hard time, so we’ll get her full story when she’s capable of talking in more detail,” Staggs’ attorney Rocky McElhaney said.

Shortly after Staggs was released from the hospital, McElhaney said they planned to sue Popeyes.

“We intend to sue the franchisee who is responsible for running that store and the Popeyes franchise or the Nashville chain,” he said. “All across the country, customers are not treated with respect or treated aggressively. We think it’s a systematic problem and we’re gonna make sure we put a stop to it.”

Cooper added there is still a pending simple assault case between the manager of Popeyes and the victim.

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