Ax-wielding man at New York City McDonalds: 'I did my 18 hours, bro'

This story has been floating around for a few days now. I’ve actually had the tabs of various stories about it open on my computer since Monday. But I don’t want to let this one fade because it really is enlightening and worrisome in some ways.

For those that haven’t heard about this, here’s the basic story: A man named Michael Palacios walks into a Manhattan McDonald’s last Friday morning. By his own admission, he’s drunk. He claims he asked to use a bathroom and a manager told him no. But eyewitnesses including the guy who shot the video of the incident say something else happened.

Ruben G, an Uber Eats delivery man who witnessed the fight, told The Post the altercation began after Palacios was spurned by the unidentified woman.

“So basically he got into an argument with a girl, and then the girl rejected him. She didn’t want to talk to him. He kept going at her…that’s when the guys she was with stepped in and they started arguing. It all led to that,” Ruben said.

“He was trying to talk to her and whatever. He was asking for her number, where she was from, and I guess she felt some way. She replied back in a certain manner that she didn’t want to give too much info and he kept pushing on.”

So it sounds like he was drunk and being a pest and the woman told him to f**k off, in so many words. Palacios didn’t like that and started shouting at her and tried to get to her. A trio of guys got in his way and kept him from getting to her. That’s about where the video picks up.

I’ve seen this about 6-7 times now but if you watch closely you’ll see that the other guys were holding Palacios back but there were no punches being thrown until he threw a punch and hit one of the guys in the face. Then all three of them started pounding on him. But because he’s big (and drunk and feeling no pain) he hugs a trash can and just absorbs the blows. Then he walks to his backpack and pulls out the hatchet/ax.

At this point he goes on the offensive again. He smashes a table. He smashes some glass. He goes around threatening all of the men who hit him, smacking one of them with his hand. He retreats momentarily and finally goes over to the woman who at this point looks terrified and starts screaming at her. He smashes her table with the ax as well. It’s hard to hear what he’s saying because of all the teenage idiots who are watching and making noises in the background but Palacios is shouting something about how everyone is afraid of him now that he has the ax. And yes, it’s clear that everyone is afraid of him including the woman who seems to be the focus of his rage.

At every step of this, Palacios was the aggressor. He starts the interaction with the woman while intoxicated. He won’t take no for an answer. He shouts at her and tries to get to her when she doesn’t succumb to his charm. When he’s held back from getting in her face, he throws the first punch. After he gets punched about a dozen times, instead of calling the police, he pulls out the ax and destroys property. And yet this local news report from ABC 7 takes Palacios’ side as if he’s the victim.

“Pulled out a hatchet to teach them a lesson,” the reporter said to introduce her story. “He calmly pulled that hatchet out,” the narrator adds, again suggesting this is a thing a normal person does. “The most important thing is don’t be afraid to defend yourself,” Palacios said to the camera. The whole report is just surreal in the way it confuses the drunk aggressor for the victim.

Palacios seems like a different person when he’s not drunk and angry but he’s the one who is being charged here with multiple misdemeanors including criminal mischief, menacing and criminal possession of weapon. In another interview he denied menacing a woman even though the video clearly shows doing so with the ax in his hand at the end of the clip.

Palacios said he then “got tired” of the three men “backing” him up. And he just “slapped one of them.” He also made it clear that the altercation “had nothing to do with attacking women.”

“The woman had no issues. I had no issues with the woman,” he explained.

Check that screengrab above for an image of him having no issues with the woman.

He later added that he’s not “unhinged” and feels he doesn’t deserve to go to jail for the incident.

“Everybody’s talking about how I should be in jail,” he said. “I did my 18 hours, bro. What else do you want? Why do I have to be in jail? I’m not going to make it a race thing just because I’m big and Black.”

One of the men holding him back was black. The man he hit in the face appears to be Hispanic or Middle Eastern. This wasn’t about Palacios’ race. In any case, 18 hours is all the time anyone is likely to face for a crime like this in New York City. Palacios was quickly released without bail. The situation got enough attention that Gov. Kathy Hochul felt embarrassed enough to blame DA Alvin Bragg for releasing Palacios.

During an unrelated news conference at her Manhattan office, Hochul said she wanted to know why alleged hatchet-wielding madman Michael Palacios was only charged with offenses that led him to be automatically sprung without bail…

“We’re actually asking what the thought process was and the decisions that were just made because we have a question about it,” she said. “Because they have the discretion to charge in a different way that would make them bail-eligible.”

NBC News did a better job of covering this story but if you read the comments on YouTube under this clip, nearly every one of them thinks Palacios is the victim. A random sample:

  • “personally i think that man showed incredibly restraint and could easily have killed all of his attacker with or without a weapon, yet he chose not to.”
  • “This is not the story they should be using as an example…dude clearly was defending himself and psyching them out for jumping him.”
  • “He could have killed but he chose not to. I guess those bullies needed to be scared straight.”

If Palacios had been jumped for no reason he should have called the police. He wasn’t and he didn’t. He threw the first punch and then decided to exact street justice with the ax. The fact that Palacios didn’t escalate to murder here doesn’t make him a hero. He’s the person who instigated this entire scene and he should be in jail for a lot longer than 18 hours. Even the state’s Democratic governor gets that much.

Update: I’m probably giving Gov. Hochul way too much credit here. She would know that even if DA Bragg hadn’t down-charged this, he’d still have been released without bail. An executive DA for the Queens DA’s office wrote a piece for the NY Post explaining why.

What Bragg’s office did was outrageous, but here’s the rub: Even had the DA not lowered the charges, Palacios STILL would have been released without bail.

You see, everything that Palacios is seen doing on that video, from smashing plate glass partitions, breaking tables, chopping his hatchet into walls, and waving it at patrons is a non-bailable offense. The video of his activity only lasts a few minutes, but under New York law, he could have done that all day long and then done the same thing at a Burger King or pizza parlor down the street, smashing the windows of every store he passed, waving the hatchet at every passerby and a judge STILL could not have set bail on him. At his arraignment on these charges, he could have said to the judge I can buy a bigger hatchet and I’m gonna do the same thing when I get out. And a judge STILL couldn’t set bail on him. He could have had a record of 30 prior convictions, but as long as none of them were pending when he did this, a judge STILL could not have set bail on him, because under New York law, a judge cannot consider public safety or risk of re-offending when setting bail.

So the problem in this particular case isn’t DA Bragg it’s the idiotic bail reform law.

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