A police officer in Kansas resigned on Monday after admitting he had fabricated a story that a McDonald’s employee wrote a vulgar insult on his coffee cup.
The Herington Police Department officer, whose name was not made public, claimed that a McDonald’s employee had written “pig,” preceded by an expletive, on a receipt attached to his cup. The department’s police chief, Brian Hornaday, relayed the story on Saturday in a Facebook post that attracted nationwide media attention but has since been deleted.
The tall tale unraveled when McDonald’s provided video footage that proved its employees had not written anything on the cup, Mr. Hornaday said at a news conference on Monday. The 23-year-old officer then admitted he had lied about the supposed incident “as a joke,” Mr. Hornaday said.
“I hope he understands the magnitude of the black eye this gives the law enforcement profession from coast to coast,” he said.
Herington, about 150 miles west of Kansas City, has a population of roughly 2,300. Lenor Brazzi, the director of operations for the McDonald’s franchise in nearby Junction City, said at a news conference that the restaurant had been “transparent and fully cooperative” in the police investigation.
“While we’re glad that the evidence confirmed our evaluation that the McDonald’s and our employees, the crew members, were absolutely not involved, we stand with our community in being disappointed about these actions,” she said.
Mr. Hornaday said he could not reveal the officer’s name because it was a “personnel matter,” but said he had been employed for about two months after spending five years in the Army. He did not specifically say whether the officer had written the insult on the cup himself, but he did say that the officer was the “sole actor” in the incident.
In his original public Facebook post, Mr. Hornaday wrote that the officer had gotten the coffee on the way to work and was offered a “free lunch” as an apology, according to KSNT, a local TV station.
“A Big Mac and large fries doesn’t make up for it,” Mr. Hornaday wrote. “The U.S. veteran who continued to serve deserves much more.”
On Monday, Mr. Hornaday said he initially believed his officer because he expected “a uniformed, sworn officer” to tell the truth. He did not believe there would be criminal charges after discussing the matter with the district attorney, he said.
But he said the department, now down to five officers, would “work tirelessly to regain the loss of trust” with its citizens and anyone hurt by the incident.
“The duty of every police officer is to protect and serve with the highest level of integrity and trust,” Mr. Hornaday said. “This incident has been an obvious violation of that public trust.”