Same-Sex Couple Allegedly Jailed For Holding Hands In Grocery Store

Jennifer Sinco Kelleher/ AP Photo
Of all the things to ruin a vacation, this has to be one of the worst. Courtney Wilson and Taylor Guerrero, a couple from L.A., were on trip to Hawaii in March when an incident with a homophobic cop turned their dream vacation to disaster.

According to a lawsuit filed by the couple on Tuesday, they were shopping in a Foodland store on the island of Oahu when they came to the attention of off-duty police officer Bobby Harrison. Harrison witnessed them "[holding] hands, and at one point [they] stopped, hugged, and kissed," the lawsuit explains, adding that Harrison loudly told them to stop and “take it somewhere else.” The couple walked away and continued their shopping, but when he saw them kiss again, he sought out a manager and tried to have them thrown out of the store.

All unpleasant enough, but it’s what happened next that throws the story into jaw-dropping territory. The lawsuit alleges that Harrison confronted the women in the checkout line, where Wilson, tired of the harassment, pulled out her phone to call 911. In response, Harrison grabbed her by the wrist, and when Guerrero tried to protect her partner, Harrison threw her to the ground. Wilson also claims Harrison punched her in the face.

Harrison then apparently instructed Foodland employees to help him restrain the women with zip-ties (he had no handcuffs on him, since he was off-duty at the time, but he was still in uniform). The women were arrested on charges of assaulting a police officer, and they were jailed for three days before being released on bail.

As a condition of their release, Wilson and Guerrero were not allowed to leave Oahu. They were forced to find temporary jobs and housing; they relied on help from strangers they had befriended, and at one point they slept in a park. After five months, the charges were dropped.

The Honolulu Police Department has opened an internal investigation into the incident. In the meantime, Officer Harrison, a 26-year veteran of the police force, remains on active duty.

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