New York, NY – New York Police Department (NYPD) sources told the New York Post that the whole Shake Shack milkshake poisoning scandal was caused by officials who gave inflammatory and incorrect information to the police unions.
A massive social media wave erupted after unions tweeted statements late on June 15 that claimed three NYPD officers assigned to the protest detail downtown had been sickened by something they ingested from a fast food restaurant.
“This evening, several [police officers] assigned to a protest detail in lower Manhattan took meal at the Shake Shack location on Broadway and Fulton Street,” the NYPD Police Benevolent Association (PBA) President Pat Lynch said.
“At some point during their meal period, the [police officers] discovered that a toxic substance, believed to be bleach, had been placed in their beverages,” the statement said.
“The contamination was not discovered until the MOS [Members of Service] had already ingested a portion of their beverages,” Lynch added.
New York City Detectives Endowment Association Presidents Paul DiGiacomo released a statement saying that three officers were poisoned.
Just a few hours later, NYPD Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison made the announcement that it had all been a mistake.
“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,” Chief Harrison tweeted just after 4 a.m. June 16.
Police sources told WPIX that that the investigation had determined that the shake machine had been improperly cleaned and a residue of a cleaning agent or bleach was still inside it when the shakes were made for the officers.
But the New York Post reported that none of the tweets about officer poisoning ever should have happened because their police sources said none of the officers actually got sick.
Sources said the three officers ordered the drinks using the apps on their phones, and picked them up at two different counters.
There was no way for Shake Shack employees preparing the drinks to know the recipients were police officers “since it wasn’t done in person,” nor was there any way for them to add contaminants to the milkshakes after the officers arrived because the beverages were already packed up on the counter, according to the New York Post.
Sources said the officers tried their drinks, tasted and smelled something off, and tossed them in the trash.
The officers alerted a manager who apologized for the problem, and then accepted vouchers for free food or drink to make up for their inconvenience, the New York Post reported.
It was all over with until the officers told their sergeant what had happened about two hours after the incident occurred.
The sergeant took the matter much more seriously, sources told the New York Post, and called in an Emergency Services Unit (ESU) at 9:20 p.m. to investigate at Shake Shack.
The sergeant had the three officers transported to Bellevue Hospital to be examined.
None of the three officers ever showed symptoms of being ill from ingesting the milkshakes, sources told the New York Post.
However, a lieutenant notified the unions of the ongoing incident in an email that sources said exaggerated the situation.
The lieutenant told the union that six officers had “started throwing up after drinking beverages they got from shake shack on 200 Broadway,” the New York Post reported.
Sources said that NYPD detectives investigated, interviewed five Shake Shack employees, and reviewed surveillance video from inside the restaurant.
They determined that residual milkstone remover – a solution routinely used to clean the machines – had made the drinks taste and smell funny, the New York Post reported.
Chief Harrison tweeted that police had found “no criminality” and the unions walked back earlier accusations about poison and deleted their tweets, but that didn’t stop the trending hashtag #BoycottShakeShack that had resulted.
The hashtag was still being used one week after the incident occurred, according to the New York Post.
Two New York City councilmen have demanded a probe into the unions’ “inflammatory” behavior surrounding the issue.
An NYPD spokeswoman said the department is investigating how the incident unfolded, the New York Post reported.