A Herington police officer has resigned after sparking an international media furor over a McDonalds coffee cup with the words “f—ing pig” written on it in black sharpie — words it would turn out he wrote himself.
The firestorm started when Herington Chief of Police Brian Hornaday posted an image of the coffee, purchased at a Junction City McDonalds. In the post, he chastised the person — then believed to be an employee at the McDonalds at 1127 S. Washington St. who’d written the insults on his officer’s cup.
The post took off, garnering attention from media outlets across the country and outside it while local law enforcement agencies voiced support.
However, by Monday afternoon it became clear that the soon-to-be-ex police officer’s story had holes in it.
Surveillance footage from the McDonalds on Washington Street indicated that no employee had written on the cup and that the cup had left the shop without having been written on.
Monday evening, Hornaday took part in a press conference where he revealed the officer was no longer employed with the Herington Police Department and answered questions.
“The actions of this former officer are absolutely, in no way, reflective of the values and the typical character of the Herington Police Department,” he said. “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.”
Hornaday said his police department would “work tirelessly” to build that lost trust back up and applauded the investigation McDonalds conducted after hearing the initial accusations.
Hornaday did not release the former officer’s name, but said he was a resident of Junction City and had worked for the Herington Police Department for about two months.
According to Hornaday, the former officer admitted the incident had been intended as a joke.
Having initially called out an unknown McDonalds employee, he turned his statement back on his former employee.
“Now, this is absolutely a black eye on law enforcement,” he said. “I truly hope that the former officer of the Herington Police Department that did this — I hope he understands the magnitude of the black eye that this gives the law enforcement profession from coast to coast. None of us can be excluded from that.”
Hornaday indicated that he regretted not investigating the matter further before taking it public on social media. He said that he made the post in the hopes of garnering a positive resolution from the matter and after questioning his officer about the matter to verify what had happened.
Hornaday said it was “important that just as what we originally thought was an act of a sole employee of McDonalds — which turned out to be false — this is the sole act of one person, not the Herington Police Department.”
He said it was unlikely at this time that criminal charges would be brought against the former employee, after preliminary discussions with the Dickinson County Attorney.
Lenor Brazzi, the director of operations for local McDonalds franchisee Dana Cook, also issued a statement during the press conference on McDonalds’ behalf.
“We appreciate the Herington Police Department’s efforts to thoroughly investigate this troubling incident,” she said. “While we’re glad that the evidence confirmed our evaluation that McDonalds 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 … Our McDonalds family maintains great respect for all members of law enforcement and our military.”
Local law enforcement intends to keep the lines of conversation open, according to an email sent out late Monday by the Geary County Sheriff’s Department.
“The Geary County Sheriff’s Office and McDonalds have been able to find a time to sit down with each other and have a cup of coffee,” it said.