NYPD union claimed officers were poisoned with milkshakes — then the story quickly fell apart

NYPD union claimed officers were poisoned with milkshakes — then the story quickly fell apart
Royalty-free stock photo ID: 1213194145 New York City - October 26, 2018: Members of the NYPD counter terrorism department responding to a suspicious package found at a post office in New York City.

New York City police unions made a big splash on social media and local news by claiming that three officers had been “intentionally poisoned” at a Manhattan Shake Shack. Guess what? It’s not true.


“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,” NYPD Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison announced early Tuesday morning. That news probably won’t be as widely shared as the claims that the workers did poison the police, though.

The officers felt sick after drinking milkshakes they bought while on protest patrol, with one reporting a bleach smell, and were treated at the hospital. But that doesn’t mean intentional poisoning—one possibility is cleaning fluid not having been fully removed from a milkshake machine so that a little got into their drinks.

A tweet by the Detectives Endowment Association labeled an “URGENT SAFETY MESSAGE” and making the “intentionally poisoned” claim was shared more than 11,000 times. The Police Benevolent Association tweeted “When NYC police officers cannot even take meal without coming under attack, it is clear that environment in which we work has deteriorated to a critical level. We cannot afford to let our guard down for even a moment,” a wildly inflammatory warning basically telling police that low-wage workers are their enemies, and the kind of statement police object strongly to when it’s made about police killing unarmed Black people. That one had been shared more than 2,500 times.

As of this writing, more than four hours after Harrison cleared the Shake Shack workers, the Detectives Endowment Association had halfheartedly reported the outcome of the investigation, while the Police Benevolent Association Twitter feed hadn’t gotten around to it, and still had the intentional poisoning claim as its last word.

Does anyone else feel like it tells us something about the level of detective work backed by the Detectives Endowment Association that it put out its intentional poisoning claim before an investigation that was completed with a few hours?

No doubt it was scary for the officers involved to feel sick. But by jumping to a false conclusion and telling the world that conclusion as a fact rather than waiting just a few hours for an investigation, New York City police unions showed why people can’t and shouldn’t trust police.

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