MINEOLA, N.Y. (AP) — A waiter at a New York restaurant was convicted of manslaughter for stabbing a co-worker with a broken bottle during an argument over $20 worth of tips, prosecutors announced Wednesday.
David Jimenez Salazar, 25, was convicted by a jury on Tuesday of fatally stabbing 37-year-old busser Elvin Padilla on July 16, 2020 at the Hicksville restaurant on Long Island where they both worked, Nassau County District Attorney Anne Donnelly said.
The fatal dispute happened during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic when the owners of the restaurant, La Candela, had instituted a policy that waiters were to share 30% of their tips with bussers.
The victim wasn’t supposed to work on the day he was killed, Donnelly said. He’d called out sick, but agreed to come in after learning of a staff shortage. It was the last shift he ever worked.
While on the job, Padilla accused Salazar of withholding $20 in tips, and the two began arguing and shoving each other, the district attorney said in a news release. Padilla threw his tip money at Salazar and shoved him. Salazar pushed back, then left.
According to prosecutors, Padilla then exited the kitchen and headed to the bar, where Salazar was waiting for him.
Salazar picked up a vodka bottle and swung it at Padilla, striking him, prosecutors said. He then broke the bottle on the counter and swung it again at Padilla, stabbing him in the jugular with the jagged-edged bottleneck, they said. Padilla, a father of two, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Salazar faces up to 25 years in prison when he is sentenced on March 16.
Salazar’s attorney, Karl C. Seman, said his client acted after Padilla had grabbed a wine bottle and charged at him.
“At no time did the defendant ever intend to cause the death of his co-worker,” Seman said, adding that Salazar “is exploring his appellate avenues.”