An investigation into claims that three New York City Police officers may have been intentionally poisoned while dining at a Shake Shack restaurant in lower Manhattan has found that “no criminality” occurred, police said Tuesday.
The officers were dining at the restaurant Monday evening when ”they discovered that a toxic substance, believed to be bleach, had been placed in their beverages,” the city’s police union said, later adding that they had been “apparently poisoned.”
The incident, however, may have the result of cleaning solution not being properly removed from a shake machine, CBS New York reported, citing unidentified sources.
The officers, who had been assigned to assist with ongoing protests, were taken to a hospital for treatment and released, authorities said.
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A “thorough investigation” into the incident was carried out, Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison said in a brief statement on Twitter, and “no criminality by Shake Shack’s employees” was found.
Hours earlier, the city’s police union sent a notice to its officers warning them to be on alert due to the incident, insisting: “We cannot afford to let our guard down for even a moment.”
“When New York City police officers cannot even take meal without coming under attack, it is clear that (the) environment in which we work has deteriorated to a critical level,” the union said.
In an updated statement Tuesday, the union said it is “relieved that, based on current evidence, that there was no intentional attack on New York City police officers in this case.” The incident remains under investigation, the statement said.
The city’s police force, like many throughout the nation, has been in the spotlight amid ongoing nationwide police brutality protests in the wake of last month’s death of George Floyd at the hands of officers in Minneapolis. In the early days of the recent protests in New York City, some NYPD officers violently cracked down on largely peaceful demonstrations, beating people with batons and using pepper spray on others.
“Trust is critical to effective policing,” New York City Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said Monday while announcing the suspension of one of his officers for macing a group of bystanders during one of the protests. “Trust takes a long time to earn, and it is very easy to lose. We will continue to work relentlessly to earn and keep that trust, because without community partnership, we cannot effectively do our jobs.”