74. NSB cops: Man arrested after trying to order from Taco Bell drive-thru on bicycle

Photo for Headline Surfer® / Gabriel Harris had good reason to pout in his jail mug. He had a bump on his head after fighting with cops after refusing to leave the Taco Bell in New Smyrna Beach on Nov. 19, when he was refused service because he tried to get an order o go while on his bicycle. Instead, he got a ride to the Volusia County Branch Jail in Daytona Beach.
 
By HENRY FREDERICK
Headline Surfer

Top 100 / Headline SurferNEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. — A 33-year-old New Smyrna Beach man ordered Taco Bell through the drive-thru, but was denied service because he was on a bicycle. Plus he appeared to be intoxicated and it was after the 3 a.m. with employees closing.

That didn't sit well with Gabriel Harris who pitched a fit, according to employees, until New Smyrna Beach cops arrived.

Harris refused to leave despite orders from the cops and after one of them reached for a Swiss army knife he had affixed to his belt, a fight broke out.

So Harris ended up incarcerated at the Volusia County Branch Jail in Daytona Beach without any of the Taco Bell order during the early morning hours of Nov. 19, and bonded out a short time later.

According to the police report, an employee offered to give him the food for free if he would just leave, but he insisted on paying for it and the restaurant couldn't do the transaction because it was against corporate policy.

The "Yo Quiero Taco Bell," which translates to "I want Taco Bell," comes in at No. 74 in the HeadlineSurfer.com countdown of the top 100 local stories of 2014.

Here's a synopsis of what happened at the New Smyrna Beach Taco Bell, 1860 State Road 44, according to the police report:

• Gabriel, apparently intoxicated, wanted Taco Bell, but employees wouldn't serve him because he was on a bicycle in the drive-through lane. They called New Smyrna Beach police when Harris refused to leave after placing an order at the drive-through window as the restaurant was closing just after 3 a.m. on a Sunday.

• According to the summary report, police found Harris sitting on the bicycle at the speaker. Cops asked him to leave and after one of the cops spotted the knife and tried to remove it from his belt, a struggle ensued and Harris was arrested. He was taken into custody on a felony charge of resisting an officer with violence.

A woman companion with Harris, Sarah Haliburton, who identified herself as his wife and on her own bike, was allowed to leave since she did not get into it with the cops or the Taco Bell employees. She later said she felt the Taco Bell restriction on serving customers on bicycles was discriminatory.

A woman companion with Harris, Sarah Haliburton, who identified herself as his wife and on her own bike, was allowed to leave since she did not get into it with the cops or the Taco Bell employees. She later said she felt the Taco Bell restriction on serving customers on bicycles was discriminatory.

A Taco Bell official told Headline Surfer® and other media outlets in follow-up stories that made headlines nationwide the drive-through restriction on ordering on a bicycle was in place for two reasons.

“First and foremost, our priority is the safety of our customers and team members, so our drive-thrus are limited to registered vehicles to be used on roads and highways,” spokesman Rob Poetsch said in an email. “In addition, our drive-thrus include technology and sensors are specifically designed and built to only serve our customers who are in vehicles.”

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Henry Frederick Picture

Short Bio

Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet news outlet covering the Daytona Beach-Sanford-Orlando metro area via HeadlineSurfer.com since 2008. A longtime cops & courts reporter focused on breaking news & investigative reporting, Frederick is among the Sunshine State's most prolific daily news reporters, having amassed close to a hundred award-winning byline stories nearly evenly split in print and digital platforms. Frederick earned his Master of Arts in New Media Journalism with academic honors from Full Sail University in Winter Park in February 2019. He was a metro reporter with the Daytona Beach News-Journal for nearly a decade and then served as a city editor for the Taunton Daily Gazette in Taunton, Mass, while maintaining a residence in Central Florida. Prior to moving to Florida, Frederick was a metro reporter for the Rockland Journal-News in West Nyack, NY, for seven years. Headline Surfer was named the Sunshine State's top internet news site by the Florida Press Club in 2018.