A Kansas police officer "fabricated" a story that a McDonald's employee wrote an expletive on his coffee cup over the weekend, Herington Police Chief Brian Hornaday said Monday. Hornaday said the officer, who no longer works for the department, had originally claimed he had been given a coffee cup on Saturday that had "f***ing pig" written on it.
"We found that McDonald's and its employees did not have anything whatsoever to do with this incident. This was completely and solely fabricated by a Herington police office who is no longer employed with our agency," Hornaday said at a press conference.
The officer, who has not been identified, was with the Herington Police Department for only two months, Hornaday said.
Hornady added that his investigation concluded the accusation "was meant to be a joke," and said the officer "should have come forward immediately ... prior to this becoming a nationwide incident."
Dana Cook, the owner of a McDonald's in Junction City, said in a written statement after the allegation was made that the store had video showing it couldn't have been an employee. Cook did not speculate at the time about who may have written the words.
"My McDonald's have the utmost respect for all members of law enforcement and the military and were troubled by the accusation made," Cook wrote in the statement. "We thoroughly reviewed our security video from every angle, which clearly shows the words were not written by one of our employees. We look forward to working with Chief Hornaday as he continues his investigation."
The alleged incident gained attention after Hornaday said in a Facebook post, which has since been removed, that one of his officers was handed the cup Saturday when he went through the McDonald's drive through in Junction City.
Hornaday wrote the officer was offered a "free lunch" and that "A Big Mac and large fries doesn't make up for it." The post included a picture of the cup. "This behavior has been, is and always will be wrong," Hornaday said in the post.
"There is a whole lot more to the story than what is being portrayed online. Hopefully, McDonald's will follow through with showing me the video that didn't exist when I met with them Saturday night," Hornaday told the station, adding, "It doesn't appear this matter is going to be resolved anytime soon."
Capt. David Gilbert of the sheriff's office in Geary County, where Junction City is located, said in an email Monday prior to the announcement the incident had been fabricated that it is "saddening to see this incident in our community no matter who wrote on the officer's cup." The statement, which also was posted to Facebook, added that "WE will stand together as a community while the incident investigation is completed."
Other restaurant chains have also attracted scrutiny over claims that police officers were mistreated. Earlier this month, Starbucks apologized after two police officers in Riverside, California, wereat one of its cafes. In November, Starbucks also apologized after a server in Glenpool, Oklahoma, allegedly wrote "PIG" on a police officer's cups.