The officers bought milkshakes from a Shake Shack on Monday night and were later hospitalized after getting sick. They have since been released.
The officers’ union, the N.Y.C. Police Benevolent Association, claimed in a statement on Monday night that the officers had been “attacked” with bleach-tainted milkshakes they bought at the Shake Shack while on protest duty.
“A toxic substance, believed to be bleach, had been placed in their beverages,” the union’s president, Patrick J. Lynch, said in a statement. He said the officers discovered the substance and did not finish their drinks but had already ingested some of the tainted substance. The three officers were taken to hospital.
“When New York City 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,” the union said. “We cannot afford to let our guard down for even a moment.”
The Detectives’ Endowment Association, another union for New York police, took the accusation even further in a tweet it flagged as an “URGENT SAFETY MESSAGE.”
“Tonight, three of our fellow officers were intentionally poisoned by one or more workers at the Shake Shack at 200 Broadway in Manhattan,” the union claimed on Twitter.
NYPD Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison announced on Monday morning that an investigation into the milkshake case was complete and that police found “no criminality by Shake Shack’s employees.” He did not indicate whether there was actually bleach in the milkshakes in question.
On Monday, Shake Shack said it was “horrified” by reports of officers being injured at one of its stores and that it was working with police on their investigation.
The company retweeted Harrison’s message on Tuesday morning.
“Our team is working hard to get the full picture,” Shake Shack added in a tweet. “In the meantime, we’re relieved to hear the officers are all OK.”
Social media users quickly lined up on both sides of the issue. Many sympathized with the officers, while others were quick to blast the Detectives’ Endowment Association for jumping to conclusions with its Monday night tweet, which claimed the officers were “intentionally poisoned.”
The union later acknowledged the NYPD’s findings.
“Shake Shack should sue,” one user wrote in a tweet, which has been liked by more than 2,000 people.
“This statement of ‘intentional poisoning’ was put out there as a declaration of fact before any investigating,” another user wrote in response to Harrison’s tweet.
The incident comes at a tense moment between police and the public throughout the United States following the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died in police custody. A Minneapolis police officer knelt on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes in a case that has triggered countrywide protests.
Mike O’Meara, president of the Police Benevolent Association for the state of New York, lashed out at politicians and the media in a passionate speech about the current situation last week.
“Stop treating us like animals and thugs, and start treating us with some respect!” he said in the speech. O’Meara also distanced New York police from the actions of Derek Chauvin, the officer accused of murdering Floyd in Minneapolis.
“We don’t condone Minneapolis. We roundly reject what he did as disgusting. It’s disgusting!” O’Meara said. “We’ve been left out of the conversation. We’ve been vilified. It’s disgusting.”