CENTENNIAL, Colo. (KDVR) — Authorities in Colorado have not found any evidence that employees at Taco Bell in Aurora put rat poison in a customer’s food. Now, deputies cannot get in contact with the customer who made the allegation.
On Jan. 15, deputies with the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office were called to a nearby hospital where a man told hospital staff that he ate food that had rat poison in it. The man told deputies that he had ordered food from the restaurant around 1 p.m. but waited until around 7 p.m. to eat. Then, he became very ill, at which point he called 911 and was taken to the hospital.
Earlier that day, deputies were called to that same Taco Bell on reports of a disturbance. A customer allegedly got into an argument with an employee in the drive-thru because the soda machine was not working. Deputies confirmed the man who was hospitalized was the same one involved in the argument.
Lab tests later confirmed there was rat poison was present in the taco. The sheriff’s office then began investigating the Aurora Taco Bell.
During the investigation — which included video evidence from the Taco Bell — the sheriff’s office found no evidence the employees were responsible for placing the rat poising in the customer’s food. Investigators said they cannot account for how the poison got into the man’s order.
Officers have also been trying to get in contact with the customer who made the claims but have not been able to reach him at his home or on the phone. Deputies are asking for the man to reach back out to the sheriff’s office if he has any further information.
Legal analyst George Brauchler told Nexstar’s KDVR that a civil case could follow the investigation if it turns out the customer wasn’t being truthful.
“I think if you’re Taco Bell, and there’s evidence that this guy made this up, you might turn your legal guns towards him and say we’re now going to sue you for the damage you tried to do to our brand,” Brauchler said.
In that scenario, the company would have to weigh whether the additional press would be worth the trouble of holding the customer accountable, Brauchler said.
“I think for Taco Bell, it’s a double-edged sword,” he said. “Do you want this story to go away yesterday? Or do you want to be vindicated? That’s a business decision.”
The investigation remains ongoing.