Investigators could not prove any malicious intent by a Diamond Bar Starbucks employee accused of placing what an off-duty LAPD officer believed to be a tampon in his drink, determining that the material was possibly a cleaning cloth, authorities said Tuesday.
The transaction happened in a Starbucks inside the Target at 747 Grand Ave. on June 19, according to a poisoning incident report released by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
The officer, whose identity was not released and was off-duty at the time, said he ordered two drinks from a female Starbucks employee and took out his credit card from his phone case, which had his police ID in it, a Sheriff’s Department statement said.
“He stated the credit card he payed with also had significant features that would imply he was a police officer on the front of it,” the statement said.
The officer said he went to the bathroom before picking up the order. When he began to drink his coffee in his car, he tasted a furry cloth substance inside his mouth, the Sheriff’s Department statement said.
The officer opened the cup and started recording a cellphone video, which he later provided to the Sheriff’s Department.
The off-duty official then left the drink inside the vehicle to go on with his day and returned about four hours later and examined the drink again, making a second cellphone recording in which he removed “a long tubular/furry cloth shaped object” from the cup, the Sheriff’s Department statement said.
The officer said he believed the material to be a tampon, and that the “suspect recognized he was a police officer and intentionally placed the object inside of his drink to try to poison him,” the report said.
The officer did not report any discomfort or pain and did not seek medical treatment, according to the Sheriff’s Department.
A deputy responded to the Starbucks location two days later and learned the identity of the barista, the Sheriff’s Department said. The investigator also obtained security video from Target that showed the six-minute encounter between the off-duty officer and the employee, but said he or she was not able to determine if the drink was tampered with due to the quality of the footage.
The Sheriff’s Department said it has submitted the case to the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office for review.
The incident drew attention on social media after a local reporter tweeted an image of the “tampon,” saying that an investigation was underway. Target said it reviewed surveillance video that it later provided to the Sheriff’s Department and found no suspicious behavior, according to the reporter.
In response to the tweet, some people compared the incident to similar instances reported by officers, including in New York City, where police likewise determined no wrongdoing when their union alleged intentional poisoning at a Shake Shack.