UPDATED 6/16 2:30 p.m. ET: After filing a defamation lawsuit against the officer who falsely accuse him of poisioning milkshakes, Shake Shack manager Marcus Gilliam has opened up about the experience.
Speaking with New York Daily News, Gilliam described how he and his staff were berated by police officers after two police unions falsely claimed three cops were given milkshakes poisioned with a “toxic substance.” He said that officers forced him to “make a milkshake in front of them,” and that one of the officers asked “’At what point did you add the bleach?’” He added, “They were trying to get me to admit to something. They were trying to coach my words.”
He said that the police tweeted the allegations before “any real investigation” took place. After the officers received offers for free food as compensation, which they accepted, “about 25 cops” arrived at the restaurant after it closed that same day. They told all the employees to sit on the floor, and Gilliam says they taunted them after doing so.
“They were taunting us, ‘Ha, ha, ha. Look at us, we work at Shake Shack.’ We were sitting on the floor and they were sitting in our chairs. It’s supposed to be protect and serve, but they were bullies,” he continued. “One girl was crying, and another staff member quit.” Half of his staff and himself were taken to a nearby stationhouse, and he was interrogated for over an hour and a half.
“They kept repeating the same questions over and over: ‘Where in the restaurant is the bleach? Who in the staff has hard feelings for the cops?’" Gilliam said. "We got death threats the next day. They were calling and saying the manager should be locked up, and all sorts of things. I have over a hundred voicemails saying that we tried to kill police officers, that we should be shut down, that the manager should be jailed.”
After the incident, Gilliam quit Shake Shack and has since started working in consturction administration.
See original story below.
The manager of a Manhattan-based Shake Shack has filed a defamation lawsuit against the city, two police unions, and the officers who falsely accused him of intentionally slipping a “toxic substance” into their milkshakes, per Grub Street.
Marcus Gilliam said that when he was informed by the officers of the milkshakes’ strange taste, he apologized and offered them vouchers for free food and milkshakes, which were accepted. Gilliam, however, was arrested and questioned by authorities later in the day amid accusations that his store had intentionally poisoned the cops.
The incident occurred in June 2020, in wake of the murder of George Floyd and subsequent reckoning with the reality of police brutality in the United States. Gilliam’s lawyer, Elliot Shields, told the New York Daily News that these officers “tried to fit this episode into this false narrative of the police being under attack.”
Gilliam was allegedly released at 1:30 a.m. after being taunted by authorities, and interrogated for two hours. He argues in his suit that the store couldn’t have been targeting the officers since their drinks were ordered from a mobile app, and were ready by the time they arrived.
The Detectives’ Endowment Association claimed the officers were “intentionally poisoned” by workers at the Shake Shack location, while the Police Benevolent Association of the City of New York publicly stated the “toxic substance” in their drinks was “believed to be bleach.” An investigation by the NYPD determined that the weird taste may have been from a cleaning solution that wasn’t properly rinsed off. Despite claims of falling ill and throwing up, the officers were taken to a nearby hospital and released that same day after not showing any signs of illness.
Gilliam, who no longer works at the location, claims he has “suffered emotional and psychological damages and damage to his reputation.” He’s seeking an unspecified amount in monetary damages, and attorney’s fees.