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The New York Police Department has dismissed claims made by its own officers that they were intentionally poisoned on Monday night after drinking Shake Shack milkshakes that had been contaminated with a toxic substance, believed to be bleach.
The explosive claims were made by two police unions late on Monday night, with one claiming —without evidence — that Shake Shack staff had poisoned the drinks on purpose.
But early on Tuesday morning, Rodney Harrison, the department’s chief of detectives, said that “after a thorough investigation by the NYPD’s Manhattan South investigators, it has been determined that there was no criminality by Shake Shack’s employees.”
The three officers, who were hospitalized and later released without suffering any serious injuries, said they had bought milkshakes at the restaurant chain's lower Manhattan location around 8:30 p.m on Monday night.
“At some point during their meals, a toxic substance, believed to be bleach, had been placed in their beverages,” a statement from the New York City Police Benevolent Association (PBA) said on Monday night.
All three officers had consumed some of their beverages when they realized something was wrong.
Shake Shack said it was “horrified by the reports of police officers injured at our 200 Broadway Shack in Manhattan.”
The Detective Endowment Association, a labor union that represents 20,000 active and retired NYC detectives, said they believed the three officers “were intentionally poisoned by one or more workers at the Shake Shack” — though it provided no evidence to back up the claim.
“Police in New York City and across the country are under attack by vicious criminals who dislike us simply because of the uniform we wear. Emboldened by pandering elected officials, these cowards will go to great lengths to harm any member of law enforcement,” the association added in a statement on its website.
The incident happened after weeks of ongoing nationwide protests against police brutality, sparked by the death of George Floyd, who died after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes.
Police have responded to the protests violently, attacking protesters and firing rubber bullets, tear gas, and pepper spray. In New York last week, one police leader angrily hit out at the press for “vilifying” police, claiming they were treating officers like “animals and thugs.”
"When NYC police officers cannot even take a meal without coming under attack, it is clear that the environment in which we work has deteriorated to a critical level," PBA President Patrick Lynch said Monday.
The PBA, which represents more than 50,000 active and retired police officers, sent a letter to all members urging them to carefully inspect their food and remain vigilant during meals.
This is not the first time that a police officer has made an explosive claim about mistreatment at a food outlet that turned out to be false.
In December 2019, newly appointed NYPD commissioner Dermot Shea blasted a Bon Appetit outlet for intentionally placing a razor blade inside a sandwich purchased by an officer, before backtracking and admitting it was simply a mistake.
And in Kansas earlier this year, a police officer claimed to have been handed a cup at a McDonald’s with the words “fucking pig” written on it, before being forced to admit he had made it all up.
Cover: A general view of the Shake Shack logo as seen on a storefront in Washington, D.C. on April 13, 2020 (Graeme Sloan/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)
This article originally appeared on VICE US.