Any time we step foot into a fast food restaurant, we’re well aware of the kind of meal we’re settling on. No one sees the Golden Arches of McDonald’s looming over the road and thinks a Michelin-rated meal awaits them inside. But, although fast-food is far from diet-friendly, no one expects their life will be put in jeopardy after they eat it.
Trevor Walker and his wife needed to grab a quick dinner for their three kids one Friday evening, so they figured a trip to McDonald’s was most efficient. By the time they returned home, however, Trevor started to feel odd, and within minutes, he was battling for his life…
Like any parent, Trevor Walker knew the difficulties of time management when it came to children. Having three of his own, the ability to carve out time to make a home-cooked meal was especially difficult.
And late one Friday night in August, Trevor, his wife Rachaelle, and their three children, were finishing up errands in their hometown of Riverton, Utah. Too tired to cook dinner at home, they opted for a choice they knew their kids enjoyed.
After spotting the Golden Arches of McDonald’s, they knew a quick and affordable meal awaited them inside. They didn’t eat fast food often because, well, it simply wasn’t healthy, but after the long day, they treated themselves.
Happy meals were on the menu for the children, as well as a couple of chicken sandwiches for Trevor and Rachaelle. Two Diet Cokes completed the order, and off to home they went. On the way home, Trevor sipped his drink, and within minutes, something felt wrong.
He felt woozy as he walked into his house. His vision blurred, and his limbs went numb. Trying to brush it off as a passing sensation, he attempted to answer a few emails but found his fingers wouldn’t punch the right letters.
The feeling kept coming on stronger. By this time, Trevor felt as though he was about to have an extreme anxiety attack. Needing help, he texted his wife who, after eating, was working at their in-home salon.
“I am having sensation in my arms and everything is moving slowly,” Trevor texted. “I’m feeling scared. I don’t know what to do. I’m so scared I’m trying to be calm. I need you.” But when she finally made her way to the living room, she gasped.
There, on the floor, was Trevor’s unconscious body. He’d been blacked out for almost a full minute before Rachaelle got to him. Luckily, after shaking him, Trevor roused.
Rachaelle called neighbors to watch the kids while she rushed him to the hospital for tests. As soon as Trevor arrived, doctors performed a urinalysis to see if any foreign chemicals were in his body.
A sneaking suspicion told Rachaelle something in the food caused the reaction, so she phoned her neighbor to bring the leftovers. She told them not to let the kids eat anymore until they got to the bottom of the situation.
The mother began inspecting the food for anything that might indicate it was tampered with. The sandwiches and happy meals both looked fine, but when she opened the sodas, there was a white film on top of the one Trevor was drinking.
While this discovery took place, Rachaelle was informed by doctors Trevor had traces of buprenorphine, a drug used to wean people off heroin, in his blood. The drug reacted with a medication Trevor was already using. That’s when she showed doctors the soda.
The white substance in the soda cup was immediately sent to the Utah State Crime Lab after police were notified. The results proved Rachaelle’s hunch about the tainted food correct: the substance was, in fact, buprenorphine.
None of the other beverages contained the drug, so it seemed like someone slipped it into the cup just before handing it off to Trevor. Police immediately contacted the Riverton McDonald’s and asked for security footage.
McDonald’s handed over the footage, but police realized it was from a different day. When they asked the restaurant’s manager again, they were told the footage was deleted. Something fishy was clearly afoot.
Through research, police learned there was one suspected employee who had social media posts about drug usage and disrespecting customers at the Drive-Thru. They were also the manager’s younger brother, which could’ve been why the footage was deleted.
Police interrogated the siblings, but neither said anything suspicious. However, they both quit their jobs shortly after the investigation, which raised red flags. Unfortunately, without solid evidence, police couldn’t make any arrests.
Trevor saw no other recourse than to file a lawsuit against not only the McDonald’s establishment that sold him the soda but against Coca-Cola and Swire Coca-Cola (the local distributor), as well. As of 2019, the suits were pending.
For most of us, a trip to McDonald’s ends, at worst, with a case of indigestion, but others have been subjected to harsh penalties for taking a trip to the Golden Arches. Emory Ellis, a 37-year-old homeless Bostonian, nearly lost his freedom after a trip to his local joint.
One of the 6,000 homeless individuals in Boston, Emory had to contend with hunger and the harsh New England winters. However, he was pretty resourceful. While Emory didn’t have much, he kept a stash of money on hand to provide for his basic needs.
That’s what brought him to a Burger King in 2015. Though he only had a few dollars to his name, he could afford the fast food joint. On top of that, he hoped the fast service would allow him to get in and out of the restaurant without making a scene.
After all, the availability of food is a huge contradiction for the homeless community. They need a hot meal more than anyone, and yet many establishments refuse to serve them due to their disheveled appearances.
Flickr / Doug Bawden
But Emory told himself there wouldn’t be a problem. He ordered breakfast at the front register and slapped a ten-dollar bill on the counter — more than enough to cover his simple order. However, a frown spread across the cashier’s face.
Eater New Orleans
The employee took a closer look at the ordinary bill and leveled a huge accusation at Emory. He claimed that this was a counterfeit, and that Emory forged it to steal from Burger King. Fed up with this nonsense, Emory demanded his money back and prepared to leave.
YouTube / Death Clock Armageddon
Even that part didn’t go as planned. The Burger King cashier set aside the “fake” in his register and pulled out his phone. Unable to process exactly how all this was happening, Emory could only watch in shock as the employee dialed 9-1-1.
Police arrived at the restaurant within minutes, but Emory actually felt relieved. This crazy fast food worker overreacted and hurled a ridiculous accusation at him. Surely the authorities could calm the guy down and confirm that Emory was no counterfeiter.
The Denver Post
Unfortunately, the police weren’t interested in justice that day. They cuffed Emory and placed him under arrest, without even asking for his side of the story. He suddenly found himself getting booked downtown and carrying a felony charge.
Most people would be able to make bail in this situation, but of course Emory had nowhere near enough money. They locked him behind bars while he waited for his trial to explain himself — whenever that would be.
Before he could clear his name, however, Emory had to worry about survival. America’s prisons are fraught with danger for non-violent inmates, guilty and innocent. They have to keep an eye out for constant violence, and they risk getting sucked into the criminal lifestyle.
YouTube / InformOverload
Emory had the good sense to stay out of trouble while in the pen, but that didn’t make the wait any easier. Three months passed while he waited for a decision that could possibly lock him up for the rest of his life.
Flickr / alpinestranger
At last, the court made the obvious choice to drop the ridiculous case. The bill was real! But that didn’t fix all Emory’s problems. The felony charge still counted as a probation violation for him, so his future was very much in peril. But he chose to fight back.
He touched base with Justin Drechsler, a local criminal defense lawyer. Justin eagerly took up Emory’s case, which he interpreted as a clear instance of discrimination. Would the Burger King staff react the same way if a white man had ordered in Emory’s place?
As Justin explained, Emory wasn’t alone either. A number of high-profile discrimination suits recently made headlines. In Philadelphia, police arrested two black men in a Starbucks while they were waiting to meet a friend for two minutes.
Similarly, five women golfers had the police called on them when the golf course staff deemed they were playing too slowly. Emory and Justin agreed that he should take his story public to help force these rampant prejudices into the spotlight.
The New York Times
After all, authorities hadn’t examined the (genuine) ten-dollar bill until long after Emory’s arrest. When you tack that on to Burger King’s irresponsible customer service — he never even got his money back — Emory saw nothing but mistreatment the entire way.
With more than enough justification, Emory Ellis filed a lawsuit against the fast food giant and that franchise owner for just under $1 million. The Suffolk Superior Court is handling the decision, though cases of this importance could get appealed all the way to the top.
All things considered, Emory was fortunate to get out of the prison system relatively unscathed. Countless other homeless individuals get trapped for good in a prison cell. Many haven’t even done anything wrong.
This case stands for much more than just getting ten dollars back. It represents a milestone in recognizing the humanity of all people and rectifying a major flaw in the justice system. Just because a man doesn’t have a home of his own doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a voice or a place to stand his ground.
The Daily Beast
Speaking of standing ground, around 7 p.m. one evening, an unnamed female police officer was patrolling near the south side of San Francisco. Around the 4700 block of the city’s famed Mission Street, she suddenly received a call from dispatch.
Mike Koozmin / San Francisco Examiner
“One of our officers responded to the report of a woman jumping up and down on cars, denting them, vandalizing them,” Police Sergeant Eli Turner later told ABC-7 News. By herself, the officer headed toward the disturbance.
When she arrived at the scene, the officer confronted the agitated woman. Using her de-escalation training, she tried to diffuse the tense situation. She had to calm down a much larger, much stronger woman. And it worked. For a minute, at least…
With the disturbed woman seemingly under control, the police officer placed her under arrest. Calm as she may have been in the moment, she’d still done some serious damage and she’d broken the law—she had to face the consequences. The suspect wasn’t happy.
Before the officer could place her in handcuffs, the suspect grew unruly and agitated. She shouted, but the officer persisted in her arrest efforts. That was when the situation became dangerously violent…
Without warning, the woman lunged at the officer. At one point, she pinned the officer against a wall and slammed her head into it. The officer was no match for the woman; it appeared her fight training was failing her…
Meanwhile, bystanders had gathered at the scene to watch. No one lifted a finger to help the officer who, according to reports, started screaming, “Help me! Help me!” Clearly, she was outmatched—and in serious trouble.
John Green / San Mateo County Times
As the officer struggled to break free from the woman who was clearly overpowering her, a man was crossing the street nearby. He saw the fight and the crowd surrounding it, and he wandered closer to take a look.
“The person had the officer kind of in a chokehold,” the man, Ryan Raso, told ABC-7. He saw the suspect was slamming the officer’s head into the wall. But then the assailant did something truly terrifying—and enough was enough.
While the officer cried out for help and bystanders did nothing, the suspect suddenly reached for the officer’s gun. Was she really so crazed that she would attempt to shoot the officer to escape? Ryan didn’t want to find out.
Before the assailant could grab the gun, Ryan intervened, wrestling her to the ground and breaking the headphones he was wearing in the process. He held the woman down until other officers arrived. He’d saved the day! But he didn’t swell with pride…
He was baffled as to why he was the only one to step in and save the officer. “A law enforcement officer is saying, ‘Help me, help me,’” he said later in disbelief. Why did no one else intervene? Thankfully, this was not lost on the officer’s colleagues…
The officer’s fellow cops wanted to show their appreciation for what he’d done. But after Ryan saved the officer, he disappeared. Authorities couldn’t find the 35-year-old hero, so they embarked on a rather friendly manhunt, combing the city to find the man—not so they could arrest him, but to thank him.
Four days later, authorities at Ingleside Station finally located Ryan (though where they found him was unclear). The more they spoke with him, the more they understood how amazing his intervention was…
Until recently, Ryan had been living in Florida, where he’d accumulated a substantial criminal history that included over a dozen arrests—including charges of resisting an officer! Once he arrived in San Francisco, he’d fallen on hard times.
“He has been homeless,” Sergeant Eli Turner told ABC-7. “He’s had a rough time in recent months. We wanted to reach out to him and let him know he has friends.” So, despite his run-ins with the law, the officers gave him something nice…
So, what did they do to show their appreciation? They chipped in to buy him new headphones! They also offered to set him up in a shelter if he wanted to. It was clear the officers wanted to help. That was when they learned something else about Ryan…
Ryan’s father had actually been a New York City police officer. The hero of the day admitted that his old man would’ve likely been very proud of his intervention. Still, Ryan didn’t do it for the glory…
“An officer was being beaten up, a human,” Ryan said. “So I just did what’s right, you know.” And it was a good thing he did. The bystander effect is a powerful force of persuasion; who knows how long it would’ve taken for someone else to intervene?