Last weekend, a police officer in tiny Herington, Kansas went into a nearby McDonald's, ordered a premium roast coffee with three sugars, and was handed a cup that had the words "fucking pig" written on it in black marker.
After hearing about McDonald's new Fucking Pig Blend, Herington police chief Brian Hornaday logged into the Facebook account he shares with his wife, and posted a picture of the officer's defaced cup. "Although I understand that 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,'" he wrote. "No thank you. A Big Mac and large fries doesn't make up for it.
"The U.S. 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. I apologize for the foul language, but covering it up would take away the full effect. Please share!"
And of course people shared his post. The Washington Post reported that the McDonald's mentioned in Hornaday's post—he wrote out its address—received threatening messages. A pro-police website, Law Enforcement Today, said that it would be sending the officer a care package. And certain sections of the internet responded with predictable comments about showing respect for police officers and all that.
But by Monday morning, Hornaday's Facebook post had been deleted. That afternoon, he held a news conference to announce that the officer had made the entire thing up—it was a "joke," Hornaday said—and he'd defaced his own damn cup.
According to KSNT, the owner of the McDonald's said that security footage proved that none of the restaurant's employees had done anything except give the cop his coffee. "My McDonald’s have the utmost respect for all members of law enforcement and the military and were troubled by the accusation made," Dana Cook said in a 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.”
Hornaday's 'investigation' seems to have pretty much fallen apart after that. The 23-year-old officer resigned after being questioned about the non-existent incident, ending his career with the Herington Police Department after only two months.
"Now, this is absolutely a black eye on law enforcement. I truly hope that the former officer of the Herington Police Department that did this, I hope he understands the magnitude of the black eye that this gives the law enforcement profession from coast to coast," Hornaday said. "None of us can be excluded from that.” (And in a follow-up post, Law Enforcement Today said that the officer's fake-ass insult "makes [cops] look bad" and "pisses us off.")
If that McDonald's didn't have security cameras and a manager who was willing to investigate, then an innocent employee could've been canned based on a police chief's social media accusations—especially after a similar incident went viral a few weeks ago. Yes, these things can happen, but surely there's a better way for cops to get attention than by writing insults on their coffee cups.
This article originally appeared on VICE US.