The investigation started with a McDonald’s sandwich.

As he was starting his shift earlier this month, a police officer with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office in Indianapolis went to heat up his McChicken and fries when he found some unsettling evidence: Someone had taken a bite out of his meal.

“I know I didn’t eat it,” the cop, who identified himself to the press only as “DJ,” told WTHR at the time. “I said, ‘You know what? I am going to the McDonald’s to see if they can get that taken care of.’”

The claim happened during a simmering summer for police nationwide. A viral trend of dumping water on officers has fueled claims from unions in New York and elsewhere that disrespect for police has reached a boiling point.

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DJ had similar fears when he returned to the McDonald’s outside downtown Indianapolis. The store offered him free food, but he said he couldn’t care less about extra fries or more burgers. The police officer suspected an employee was targeting him because he was a cop, and he wanted justice for his McChicken.

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“I just wanted to find out who the person was and they deal with that person in an appropriate way,” he told WTHR.

Both McDonald’s and the sheriff’s office launched full investigations to find the truth. But on Friday, police found that the culprit was not an employee who wanted to mess with law enforcement. Instead, DJ simply forgot that he had already taken a bite out of the McChicken.

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“The employee took a bite out of the sandwich upon starting his shift at the Marion County Jail, then placed it in the refrigerator in a break room,” police said in a statement, according to WTHR. “He returned nearly seven hours later having forgotten that he had previously bitten the sandwich.”

The sheriff’s office added: “He wrongly concluded that a McDonald’s restaurant employee had tampered with his food because he is a law enforcement officer.”

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The officer has now formally apologized to McDonald’s for the false accusation, police said.

The Indianapolis cop isn’t the first to wrongly accuse a fast-food chain of tampering with his meal. In 2016, an 18-year-old Subway employee in Layton, Utah, was arrested on accusations of lacing a police officer’s drink with THC. The employee was reportedly subjected to death threats and harassment online before toxicology results came back negative and cleared the Eagle Scout of any wrongdoing, according to KSL.

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“It definitely has been a worry that this is going to affect me for years to come,” the teen told the outlet.

But some fast-food allegations have perhaps been more serious. Last year, a sheriff’s deputy in Lee County, Fla., was eating Taco Bell burritos when his tongue started to feel “numb and tingly,” CBS Miami reported. As he inspected the remaining burritos, the officer identified only as “Deputy Brown” noticed something that smelled like a cleaning product. The officer discovered the burritos were wrapped in bleach, according to CBS Miami. Multiple outlets reported that the Taco Bell store was under investigation, but it’s unclear whether any charges were filed.

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In Indianapolis, the Marion County Sheriff’s Office praised McDonald’s for its cooperation in getting to the bottom of the sandwich mystery.

"We recognize that McDonald’s is a valued civic partner, and any insinuation in private or in the media to the contrary is unfounded,” police said.

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