Courtney Wilson and Taylor Guerrero's Hawaiian vacation was hardly relaxing after the two were arrested on their second day and spent three days in jail. The two allege they were hauled off in handcuffs for showing affection to each other in a grocery store, according to the Associated Press.
Honolulu police have opened an internal investigation into Officer Bobby Harrison's conduct inside a Foodland store; Harrison, a 26-year veteran officer, is still on active duty. The couple has also filed a federal lawsuit alleging Harrison violated their civil rights.
Wilson and Guerrero claim that during their visit to Oahu in March, Harrison followed them around the Foodland store and harassed them repeatedly after observing them holding hands. When they stopped for a hug and quick kiss, the uniformed but off-duty officer "observed their consensual romantic contact and, in a loud voice, ordered plaintiffs to stop and 'take it somewhere else'," according to the lawsuit.
The two continued shopping but when Harrison saw them show affection again, he threatened to have them thrown out of the store. As the women were checking out the officer confronted them again. Harrison reportedly grabbed Wilson after she tried to call 911 to report the officer's behavior.
"He was bumping his belly against Courtney," Guerrero told the Associated Press. "He said, 'You girls don't know how to act. You don't know the difference between a motel and a grocery store'." When Guerrero tried to intervene, the incident became physical.
Harrison reportedly shoved Guerrero and she kicked him as she fell to the floor. Wilson says Harrison punched her in the face. Honolulu TV station KHON showed photos of Wilson's bruised face. Store employees helped subdue the couple until other officers arrived.
The two were arrested for assaulting a police officer and spent three days in jail before being released on bail. They were ordered to remain in Honolulu as a condition of their release, but the vacationing couple were forced to rely on the generosity of befriended strangers to survive. The women told reporters they took jobs cleaning tourist rental properties among other odd jobs as they waited for their case to move forward.
Their attorney, Eric Seitz, told The Washington Post, “with no money and no place to go, they ended up fending for themselves and sleeping in a park" for almost a week.
Charges were eventually dropped. A police spokesperson refused to comment other than acknowledging they had opened an internal investigation.
Foodland, which is not a party to the lawsuit, has apologized to the women.
Watch the report from KHON, below.