Cast your mind back to last summer, in the midst of the protests over the police murder of George Floyd, when three NYPD officers accused Shake Shack employees of attempting to POISON them by putting bleach in their milkshakes. At the time, the department investigation concluded that the officers were never poisoned in the first place—in fact, it would’ve been impossible for the Shake Shack employees to even know that the customers were cops, as the shakes were part of a mobile order that had been made and packaged before the NYPD officers even arrived at the restaurant.
Of course, the truth didn’t stop NYPD leadership from using the contrived incident to claim that police officers were actually the ones being persecuted in this situation, not the Black people who law enforcement brutalizes and murders by the dozens yearly. How entirely unsurprising.
Marcus Gilliam, the 28-year-old Black man who was managing the Manhattan Shake Shack where the officers ordered their perfectly normal milkshakes, has filed a lawsuit against the three officers who claimed they had been poisoned, as well as two police unions who were responsible for spreading the false story. In the suit, Gilliam claims he’s faced “violation of his civil rights, emotional distress, anguish, anxiety, fear, humiliation, loss of freedom, economic damages, legal expenses and damages to his reputation and standing within his community” as a result of the incident.
As a result of the NYPD officers’ baseless accusations, Gilliam was arrested without probable cause before being detained and questioned at a police station. “They had me make a milkshake in front of them,” Gilliam told New York Daily News. “As I was adding the custard, one of the officers said, ‘At what point did you add the bleach?’ They were trying to get me to admit to something. They were trying to coach my words.” Gilliam says he received death threats and “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 police officers made their false claims.
In his lawsuit, Gilliam is seeking “an unspecified sum of money” in compensatory and punitive damages. After the incident last summer, he quit his job at Shake Shack, and now works in construction.