Centennial: On January 15, 2023, Deputies responded to 16700 E Smoky Hill Rd (Taco Bell) on a report of a disturbance at about 1:00 pm. Deputies found that a verbal disturbance had occurred between a customer in the drive-through and employees in the Taco Bell. The information Deputies received through their investigation was that a customer had ordered several soft tacos and a soda. When the customer arrived at the pickup window, he was told that the soda dispenser was not working. The customer became angry and requested a burrito in place of the drink. Initially, the employees told him they could not do that. He continued to argue with staff until he was given a burrito in place of the drink. Deputies found that there was no criminal activity that had occurred.
On January 15, 2023, at about 7:50 pm, Deputies were dispatched to an area hospital on a report that a male patient was admitted to the hospital after telling hospital staff that he ate food that had rat poison in it. At the hospital, deputies spoke with the patient, who was found to be the customer from Taco Bell earlier. The customer told deputies he had received his tacos at Taco Bell and went home. He then helped a neighbor with some yard work. At around 6 pm, he sat down and watched a TV program from 6 pm to 7 pm. The customer told deputies that he ate his tacos after the program finished. He immediately felt a burning in his mouth and began to vomit. He called 911 and was transported to the hospital. At the hospital, deputies saw the taco he took a bite out of and saw a greenish-gray substance in the taco. Lab tests confirmed the presence of rat poison in the taco. The customer gave the deputies consent to enter his home and retrieve the remaining food as evidence. Taco Bell was immediately closed, and Sheriff's Office Investigators and Crime Scene Investigators (CSI) were called to Taco Bell to process the scene. The Arapahoe County Health Department was contacted. Environmental Health went through the process of what Taco Bell would need to do before re-opening. Taco Bell was very helpful during the investigation and turned over all videos from inside the building.
Over the last several days, investigators have been going through the Taco Bell video and found no evidence that the employees were responsible for placing the rat poison in the food given to the customer.
During the investigation, investigators have been trying to contact the customer via phone but have not been able to speak with him. On January 19, 2023, investigators went to the customer's home and attempted contact with him, but there was no answer.
Although there is no evidence that the employees at Taco Bell put the rat poison in the food, investigators can not account for how it got in the food. If the customer has any information that can help with the investigation into how the poison could have gotten into the food, we request he contacts the Sheriff's Office.
This case will remain an open and active investigation. The report, including photos and video, will not be released because it is still an active case.