Vacationing with a significant other didn’t seem like a risk for Courtney Wilson and Taylor Guerrero, a couple from Los Angeles, until they were arrested in a Hawaii grocery store earlier this year after a police officer objected to their public displays of affection. The couple wants justice over their wrongful arrest and alleged harassment by the officer, according to the lawsuit the women filed this week against the police department, the city and the county of Honolulu.
Local police also opened an internal investigation Wednesday into the couple’s allegations, according to the Associated Press. The investigation was announced after the women filed the lawsuit, according to reports. Police officials also said Wednesday that they wouldn’t comment on pending litigation, according to an Al Jazeera America report.
Wilson and Guerrero’s lawsuit seeks unspecified monetary damages related to the treatment by Officer Bobby Harrison, a 26-year veteran of the Honolulu police force, who the women said was motivated by his hatred toward gays. The arrest happened in March, but Harrison remained on full active duty Wednesday, according to Michelle Yu, a Honolulu police spokeswoman.
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The couple said they shopped at a Foodland grocery store on Oahu's North Shore, on the second day of their Hawaii vacation. Wilson and Guerrero walked through the aisles holding hands and, at one point, hugged and kissed each other, according to their federal lawsuit.
Harrison, who was shopping in his police uniform, "observed their consensual romantic contact and, in a loud voice, ordered plaintiffs to stop and 'take it somewhere else,'" the lawsuit states. The women complied, but were later seen embracing again, prompting Harrison to threaten to have them thrown out of the store.
When the women got to the checkout stand, a confrontation with Harrison ensued and the women were accused of striking the officer during a struggle. The couple also sustained injured during the scuffle, they alleged. Wilson and Guerrero were arrested, charged with felony assault on an officer, and held on $12,000 bail each.
After their release on bond, the charges against the women were dropped, said the women’s Honolulu attorney, Eric Seitz, according to Al Jazeera America. The incident occurred despite same-sex marriage being legal in the state of Hawaii.