A Kansas police chief who called out a local McDonald's -- after one of his officers claimed he was served a cup of coffee with a vulgar and insulting message attached -- said Monday the officer has resigned after fabricating the incident.
Herington Police Chief Brian Hornaday confirmed the unnamed officer made up the story about being given a coffee cup with "F-----g pig" written on it. The incident caused a stir on social media over the weekend and resulted in criticism of the fast-food giant.
"This was completely and solely fabricated by a Herington police officer who is no longer with our agency," Hornaday said during a Monday news conference. "Moving forward, the Herington Police Department will work tirelessly to regain to loss of trust with both McDonald's and with the citizens that we serve."
Hornaday also said the unnamed officer was 23 and had been with the department for just two months. He called the incident a "black-eye for law enforcement" and said no criminal charges were expected to be filed.
On Monday, the owner of the Junction City McDonald's denied his employees wrote the message. Dana Cook said video surveillance proved his workers committed no wrongdoing.
“My McDonald’s have the utmost respect for all members of law enforcement and the military and were troubled by the accusation made," he told KSNT-TV. "We thoroughly reviewed our security video from every angle, which clearly shows the words were not written by one of our employees."
Hornaday initially shared a now-deleted photo of the vulgar message on Facebook, which led to backlash against McDonald's for the reported insult.
“This is what he paid for. Although I understand this is likely the act of one person and not a representation of the company, when it was brought to their attention the company offered him a ‘free lunch.’ No thank you," Hornaday posted. "A Big Mac and large fries doesn’t make up for it. The US Veteran who continues to serve deserves much more. This is not only bad for McDonald's, but is also a black eye for Junction City.”
McDonald's and Herington police had launched separate investigations into the incident. Hornaday the officer claimed the incident was meant to be a joke.
"However, we can see that how something so serious can so out of control very, very quickly," Hornaday told reporters. "The most important thing that could have been done and should have been done in this scenario was to come forward immediately prior to damage being done, prior to this becoming a nationwide incident."
In a statement to Fox News over the weekend, Cook said the fast-food giant was a strong supporter of the military and law enforcement.
"In fact, I have several family members who are law enforcement officers," he said. "We take any incident like this seriously and are currently investigating the allegation made."
Cook told the news station that he planned to present the video evidence to Hornaday on Monday. Hornaday told the outlet he wanted answers.
“Acknowledgment that something was done wrong is kind of what we always want,” Hornaday said. “Whether it’s something like this that happened at McDonald’s or in the criminal justice system.”
Another local law enforcement agency, the Geary Sheriff's Department, pledged on Facebook to have some of its officers visit the McDonald's on Monday as a show of good faith.
"We do not believe the actions of one individual represent the feeling of our community as a whole, a community we are proud to serve," the post read.
"As a show of faith in our community the Sheriff and some of his command staff will be visiting to have a cup of Coffee Monday morning."