HERINGTON, Kan. (WIBW/Gray News) – A Kansas police officer is no longer employed after admitting he “fabricated” a story about a McDonald’s employee writing an expletive on his coffee cup over the weekend, according to the Herington police chief.
Herington Police Chief Brian Hornaday confirmed in a news conference Monday that the officer resigned from the agency, calling it a “black eye on the law enforcement community.”
After initially standing by his story, Hornaday said the officer has since told him the note was “meant to be a joke.”
The officer made the claims Saturday, telling the chief he was on his way to work when he ordered a coffee at the Junction City McDonald’s drive-thru. As he continued on his way, he said he saw the words “f*****g pig” written on his cup.
Hornaday shared his concerns over the incident, along with a photo of the cup, in a Facebook post which quickly garnered thousands of shares. McDonald's immediately said it was taking the allegation seriously.
From there, the investigation led both McDonald's and Hornaday to review surveillance videos.
"Based on what I saw this morning (Monday) in meeting with the McDonald's representatives, we are looking further into this matter," Hornaday said in an interview Monday afternoon.
McDonald’s Owner/Operator Dana Cook addressed the matter in a written statement Monday as well, saying, “My McDonald’s [employees] have the utmost respect for all members of law enforcement and the military and were troubled by the accusation made. 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."
In a news conference Monday night, Hornaday applauded McDonald's for their investigation and thanked them for working with them on the issue.
Hornaday said he made his initial statements based on information he believed to be true at the time, adding that he expects when he asks an officer a question, they will tell him the truth.
“My reaction based on the initial incident was just my reaction based on what I believe, and that’s a police officer who is sworn to protect, their integrity is of the highest order, and it would be foolish of any law enforcement agency or professional to not take the word of their police officer until they can be proven otherwise,” Hornaday said.
Hornaday declined to release the 23-year-old officer’s name. He said he’d been with the department for two months, and previously spent five years as a military police officer in the Army.