Police officer made up story about expletive on his coffee cup

HERINGTON, Kan. (WIBW) -- A Herington Police Officer is no longer employed after admitting he "fabricated" a story a McDonald's employee wrote an expletive on his coffee cup over the weekend.

Herington Police Chief Brian Hornaday confirmed in a news conference the officer resigned from the agency, calling it a "black-eye on the law enforcement community."

"McDonald's and its employees did not have anything whatsoever to do with this incident. This was completely and solely fabricated by a Harrington police officer who is no longer employed with our agency," said Hornaday.

After initially standing by his story, Hornaday said the officer has since told him the note was "meant to be a joke."

The officer made the claims Saturday, telling the Chief he was on his way to work when he ordered a coffee at the Junction City McDonald's drive-thru. As he continued on his way, he saw the words "f***ing pig" written on his cup.

Hornaday shared his concerns over the incident, along with a photo of the cup, in a Facebook post which quickly garnered thousands of shares. McDonald's immediately said it was taking the allegation seriously.

From there, the investigation led both McDonald's and Hornaday to review surveillance videos.

"Based on what I saw this morning (Monday) in meeting with the McDonald's representatives, we are looking further into this matter," Hornaday said in an interview Monday afternoon.

McDonald’s Owner/Operator Dana Cook addressed the matter in a written statement Monday as well, saying, “My McDonald’s have the utmost respect for all members of law enforcement and the military and were troubled by the accusation made. 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."

"While we are glad that the evidence confirmed our evaluation that the McDonald's and our employees, crew members were absolutely not involved, we stand with our community in being disappointed about these actions. We took seriously our role to be transparent and fully cooperative with Chief Hornaday and his department throughout his investigation. We look forward to continuing our strong relationship with the department moving forward. Our McDonald's family maintains great respect for all members of law enforcement and our military. It is with great pride that our restaurant is always open to them," said Lenor Brazzi, Director of Operations for the franchisee owner.

In a news conference Monday night, Hornaday applauded McDonald's for their investigation and thanked them for working with them on the issue.

Hornaday said he made his initial statements based on information he believed to be true at the time, adding that he expects when he asks an officer a question, they will tell him the truth.

“My reaction based on the initial incident was just my reaction based on what I believe, and that’s a police officer who is sworn to protect, their integrity is of the highest order, and it would be foolish of any law enforcement agency or professional to not take the word of their police officer until they can be proven otherwise,” Hornaday said.

Hornaday declined to release the 23-year-old officer's name. He said he'd been with the department for two months, and previously spent five years as a military police officer in the Army.

"The actions of this former officer are absolutely in no way reflective of the values and the typical character of the Harrington Police Department. The duty of every police officer is to protect and serve with the highest level of integrity and trust. This incident has been an obvious violation of that public trust."

------ Updated at 10:00a.m. Monday ------

Herington Police Chief Brian Hornaday says he’s waiting to see new video discovered by the McDonald’s in Junction City after one of his officers allegedly found a handwritten expletive on his coffee cup over the weekend.

Just after 6:00 a.m. Saturday, a Herington police officer stopped at the McDonald's drive-thru at 1127 South Washington St. in Junction City while he was on his way to work, Hornaday said in a press release.

After picking up his coffee, the officer made his way back to the police department, the officer noticed the words "f***ing pig" written on the side of the cup.

Hornaday says he’s been working with the local franchisee, reviewing video from Saturday.

McDonald’s Owner/Operator Dana Cook addressed the matter in a written statement saying, “My McDonald’s have the utmost respect for all members of law enforcement and the military and were troubled by the accusation made. 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."

“There is a whole lot more to the story than what is being portrayed online. Hopefully, McDonald's will follow through with showing me the video that didn’t exist when I met with them Saturday night,” Hornaday told 13 NEWS.

The franchisee told the Chief that new video has been discovered showing the employee didn’t write the expletive.

“It doesn’t appear this matter is going to be resolved anytime soon,” Hornaday added.

David Gilbert with the Geary County Sheriff Office sent an updated statement saying, “It is saddening to see this incident in our community no matter who wrote on the officer’s cup.” Gilbert continued, “WE will stand together as a community while the incident investigation is completed.”