Lawsuit: homophobic Hawaii cop arrested women for kissing in public

Photo: Taylor Guerrero

A lesbian couple were arrested after kissing in a grocery store, and now the Hawaii cop who targeted them is the target of a lawsuit.

The Honolulu Police Department has also opened an internal investigation into the conduct of officer Bobby Harrison, who allegedly punched one of the women in the face after they ignored his objections to their public display of affection.

Courtney Wilson and Taylor Guerrero were taken into custody in March after the incident, at a Foodland store on Oahu's North Shore. They were charged with felony assault on an officer and spent three days in jail. The charges were dropped after five months, during which the women were forced to remain on the islands.

Foodland apologized to the women, according to their Honolulu attorney Eric Seitz, but did not otherwise comment on the lawsuit. Store staff reportedly helped the officer, who was in uniform but off-duty, restrain the women during the encounter.

According to the lawsuit, Harrison saw the women kissing and "in a loud voice, ordered plaintiffs to stop and 'take it somewhere else.'" Though the women walked away, Harrison followed them and "ordered Plaintiffs to stop, and threatened to have them thrown out of the store."

In the checkout line, according to the lawsuit, Harrison told them they were trespassing, and ordered them to "move out of the cashier line." Wilson started to call 911, but Harrison grabbed Wilson by the wrist to prevent her doing so and told them "you girls don't know how to act."

When Guerrero tried to separate the two, she told reporters, Harrison shoved her then punched her in the face.

A Hawaii News Now report says Foodland staff helped Harrison zip-tie the women.

The women said Foodland employees were then instructed to hold them down until someone found zip ties.

"They took us down to the basement of Foodland where they continued to harass us about our conduct in the store, asking us if it was worth it, if we were happy where we are," Wilson said. "We were just shocked that it all happened." …

Wilson also told reporters that she was denied medical treatment at the scene and after she was arrested. Pictures of her injuries weren't taken until two days after the assault.

Police at first told the Associated Press they would not comment on the pending litigation, but soon announced the internal investigation. Harrison, reportedly a 26-year veteran, remains on full active duty.