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McDonald's Cook Rayon McIntosh 'Elated' to be Free of Beating Charges

By Andrea Swalec | December 3, 2011 11:16am
 Rayon McIntosh, who was accused of brutally beating a pair of unruly patrons in a West Village McDonald's, appeared in court on Tues., Oct. 18, 2011.
Rayon McIntosh, who was accused of brutally beating a pair of unruly patrons in a West Village McDonald's, appeared in court on Tues., Oct. 18, 2011.
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Pool Photo by Steven Hirsch

MANHATTAN — Rayon McIntosh — the Greenwich Village McDonald's cook who was cleared Friday evening of felony assault charges for beating two unruly female customers — said he was overjoyed to be free after spending nearly seven weeks in jail and plans to sue the fast food eatery for not keeping him safe.

"I'm just glad to be home," McIntosh, 31, told DNAinfo after being released from Rikers Island Friday night. "I feel elated, I feel splendid."

In the first in-depth interview since his release, McIntosh — who garnered an outpouring of support after DNAinfo's "On the Inside" broke the news of the shocking videotaped Oct. 13 incident — said that he and other employees had told managers and franchise owners of the West 3rd Street McDonald's for months that they needed to hire more security. 

"We were begging them to get security," McIntosh said by phone early Saturday morning. "The McDonald's itself is a problematic store. It has a high, concentrated number of people every day.

"In the Village, it's crazy." 

McIntosh, who was fired, plans to hire a lawyer to take "civil action" against the eatery and said he will never work for the fast food mega-chain again.

A spokeswoman for McDonald's USA said the 136 W. 3rd St. restaurant has had security on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights since July. After the McDonald's attack, which occurred on an early Thursday morning, guards were posted on Wednesday nights as well, spokeswoman Ashlee Yingling said. 

A gay man was severely beaten at the restaurant in April and workers at neighboring businesses have said that the McDonald's has been a trouble spot.

Police sources told DNAinfo after the incident that McDonald's management chose not to hire off-duty NYPD officers to patrol the restaurant because it "wasn't in their financial interest."

The restaurant's marketing manager in turn said at a community meeting in late October that police should monitor the area more thoroughly, rather than ask the restaurant to hire its own security. 

"I, along with my employees, are happy for Rayon and that he was released and cleared of all charges," said Carmen Paulino, owner of the West 3rd Street franchise, in a statement Saturday.

"Operating safe, welcoming restaurants is one of my top priorities," he added, saying that security was added after McIntosh's dustup.

"Regarding a potential lawsuit from the former employee, we haven’t been contacted nor can we comment on something we haven’t seen.”

Dramatic cellphone video posted online shows McIntosh using a metal rod to beat two women, both 24, who jumped over the fast-food counter apparently to attack him. 

One of the women, Denise Darbeau, suffered a fractured skull in the incident. The other, Rachel Edwards, received a deep cut on her arm.

Both women were charged with trespass, but it was not clear if they were indicted.

Prosecutors announced at about 4:30 p.m. Friday that a grand jury had voted to dismiss the assault charges against McIntosh, who was not in the courtroom due to a procedural complication. 

News that the charges had been dropped made its way to McIntosh at Rikers Island around 6 p.m., when other inmates told him they had heard about it on TV.

"I was surprised," said McIntosh, who speaks with a slight accent from his native Jamaica. "I never want to have too much faith." 

Assistant District Attorney Jamie Mendoza said the grand jury "voted to dismiss [the case] in the interest in justice." 

In McIntosh's account of the incident that landed him in jail for 48 days, Darbeau and Edwards threatened him, forcing him to defend himself.

"From my perspective, I was very scared," he said. "It was two against one. When you're faced with that kind of situation…your self-preservation kicks in. You're going to defend yourself. [Darbeau] put me in a situation where I had no choice." 

After serving more than a decade in prison for accidentally killing a friend during a confrontation with another group of young men, McIntosh was released from prison on March 3. He began working at McDonald's at the end of that month.

"When I came home [from prison], I had to suck my pride up to work in a McDonald's," he said. "I just came home from doing 11 years and then [the incident] happened. I was doing really good."

McIntosh said he will never work at a McDonald's again and will take any kind of work he can get. He will also focus on spending time with his family, including his 11-year-old daughter, and his girlfriend, Althea Bartley, who he met when he was released from prison in March. 

"I want to thank the grand jury and my family for being there, and all the people who supported me across the state of New York," he said, acknowledging the outpouring of support he received from people who described his actions as self-defense.  

McIntosh said he was dismayed that no one came to his aid when Darbeau and Edwards threatened him, but he thanked the mystery person who created the video that he said helped set him free.

"Whoever that person was who got those shots and uploaded them, may God bless him," he said.