A lesbian couple is suing the Honolulu Police Department and Officer Bobby Harrison, claiming he assaulted and then arrested them because he saw them kissing in an Oahu grocery store.
Taylor Guerrero and Courtney Wilson, of Los Angeles, were on vacation in Hawaii in March 2015 when the incident occurred, Hawaii News Now reports. Wilson, 25, and Guerrero, 21, were charged with first-degree assault on a police officer. Wilson was also charged with criminal property damage. The charges were dropped five months later.
Harrison was off duty at the time of the incident. The federal lawsuit was filed Tuesday. Guerrero said the officer began harassing her and Wilson after he saw their public displays of affection at Foodland Pupukea.
“We were holding hands and I was kissing her cheek,” Guerrero told reporters Wednesday. “He was like you girls, you girls can’t do that in here.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Harrison Allegedly Told the Couple to ‘Take It Somewhere Else’
The incident occurred on March 3 when Taylor Guerrero and Courtney Wilson went to the Foodland Pupukea to get something to eat, according to the lawsuit (which you can read above). Harrison was also in the store shopping. He was off-duty, but was in his uniform.
The couple’s attorney, Eric Seitz, writes in the lawsuit that Guerrero and Wilson were holding hands and at one point stopped, hugged and kissed, while shopping. Harrison saw the “consensual romantic contact,” and said in a loud voice, “take it somewhere else,” the lawsuit states.
Guerrero and Wilson then left the area and continued shopping outside the view of Harrison. They said he later saw them “engaged in similar consensual contact,” and again ordered them to stop, threatening to have them thrown out of the store. The couple claims Harrison then found the store’s manager and “encouraged” the manager to issue written trespass warnings to them, ordering them to leave and not return.
While Guerrero and Wilson were in the checkout line, Harrison again confronted them, they claim in the lawsuit. He told them the store was going to issue them a written trespass notice, and told them to step out of line. Wilson said she took out her cell phone and called 911 after “voicing her displeasure” about Harrison’s conduct.
Wilson claims Harrison then stopped her from leaving the store and seized her phone, not allowing her to complete the 911 call.
The lawsuit accuses Harrison of being motivated by “invidious discriminatory animus toward gay/same-sex couples.”
2. Wilson Says She Was ‘Punched in the Face’ During the Altercation With the Officer