Oklahoma City police officer Shawn Byrne is suing Taco Bell, claiming that his steak quesadilla was laced with cologne and spicy chipotle. He suffered severe burns in his throat as a result.
Byrne and his wife, Amanda, visited a local Taco Bell in February, where he ordered the steak quesadilla and soda at the drive-thru window.
NewsOK reports that the officer claims in the lawsuit: “After the person at the window took his order, he went over to two men employees and said something to them. They all looked over at him and started laughing. A few minutes later, the order taker brought his order and said he was sorry for the delay.”
Byrne said his “tongue, throat and the roof of his mouth began burning” after his third bite of the food.
According to the lawsuit, Byrne visited a hospital the next morning when his mouth and eye were still burning, where doctors discovered “burned spots on his throat.” As a result of the burns, the officer had to take more than 127 hours of sick leave from his job and he missed an additional 68 hours of extra scheduled jobs.
Two weeks after the alleged incident at Taco Bell, Byrne developed appendicitis which required surgery. Doctors reportedly said the spicy food could have caused the appendicitis.
Byrne had the remainder of the quesadilla tested and the food was found to contain cologne and a “high concentration of pepper,” according to the lawsuit.
After Byrne reported the incident, the Oklahoma City Police investigated, finding that two of the three Taco Bell employees who handled the officer’s order have criminal backgrounds.
Additionally, the lawsuit states that surveillance video showed the packaging for Byrne’s food was dropped on the floor and the employee continued with the order, “picking it up, and nevertheless putting his food in it and handing it to him.”
Byrne and his wife are seeking more than $75,000 in damages.
Bryne’s attorney noted: “The Department of Agriculture said there was an extremely hot pepper sauce on the sandwich and there was cologne in the sandwich also,” adding, “Shawn does not wear cologne.”
People commenting on the story wondered why better background checks aren’t in place, noting: “Taco Bell as a whole is not to blame for this incident, but their managers need to have strict guidelines as to who they hire and those hires need to be thoroughly checked out. When an entity feeds the public the people who work there should be on the up and up without question.”
Another wondered what happened with the employees, commenting: “Hope they lost their jobs with no pay. Sorry for police officers but shame on these people and taco bell.” Another person echoed this, but hoped for more severe punishment: “I don’t give a damn how much you hate someone don’t mess with their food. The person that prepared his food needs to go to jail.”