This is an archival story that predates current editorial management.
This archival content was written, edited, and published prior to LAist's acquisition by its current owner, Southern California Public Radio ("SCPR"). Content, such as language choice and subject matter, in archival articles therefore may not align with SCPR's current editorial standards. To learn more about those standards and why we make this distinction, please click here.
Lesbian Couple Say They Were Arrested For Kissing In A Grocery Store
Two Los Angeles women have filed a claim against the Honolulu Police Department, saying they were roughly arrested in a Hawaii grocery store being affectionate with each other.
Courtney Wilson, 25, and Taylor Guerrero, 21, are a Los Angeles couple of two years who were vacationing in Hawaii in March, the Associated Press reports. They say they were shopping at a Foodland Pupukea on Oahu's North Shore when Officer Bobby Harrison, who was shopping while wearing his uniform, told them to take their public displays of affection elsewhere. According to Guerrero, this was hand holding, and Guerrero kissed Wilson on the cheek, Hawaii News Now reports. The women stopped touching, but later, the officer saw them again and told them he could have them thrown out of the store. According to the couple's attorney, Eric Seitz, Harrison approached them a third time as they were in the checkout lane. This time, he grabbed Wilson and told the women that they didn't know "the difference between a motel and a grocery store," Guerrero told AP.
Seitz said that Wilson tried to call the police, and Guerrero tried to get between the officer and Wilson. Harrison then allegedly shoved Guerrero, who kicked at him as she fell to the floor. Wilson said Harrison punched her in the face.
Harrison then allegedly ordered store employees to hold the couple down and bound them with zip ties, all in front of other customers, who Wilson said she does not blame for choosing to stay out of it. The women were both arrested and charged with felony assault on an officer. Their arrest occurred on the second day of their vacation, and they spent three days in jail. They had to pay a bondsman $1,300 of their total $12,000 bond to get released. However, one of the conditions of their release was that they would have to stay on the island for their court appearances. So, the pair ended up crashing at parks, with strangers they made friends with and family friends. They also had to clean vacation rentals and do other odd jobs for money, as they spent the bulk of their trip money to get out of jail. Prosecutors ultimately dismissed the case five months later.
Harrison is a 26-year veteran of the Honolulu Police Department, and according to a department spokeswoman is still on active duty, though the department is investigating internally. The lawsuit claims that Harrison's actions were a result of his negative feelings about gay people, and names Honolulu and the county as a co-defendants, according to the Independent. Foodland, who the couple is not suing, has apologized.
Hawaii News Now reports that the surveillance tapes from the store that would have shown the entire incident are gone.