Police Abuse

Off-Duty Hawaii Cop Harassed, Assaulted, Lesbian Couple Over Light PDA, State Left Them Homeless, Lawsuit Alleges

Attorneys says charges of assaulting a police officer were dropped five months later.


KGMB screencap

A lawsuit filed in Hawaii by Courtney Wilson and Taylor Guerrero, a couple who had been on vacation there from Los Angeles, alleges Honolulu police officer Bobby Harrison harassed them for kissing in the aisle of a Foodland grocery store, eventually preventing Wilson from leaving the store to tell a 911 dispatcher where she was located, and punching her girlfriend in the face when she stepped in.

Hawaii News Now reports:

They said Harrison, who was off-duty but in uniform, followed them to the checkout along with a store employee, threatening to have them cited for trespassing because of their behavior.

Wilson said she was confused about what they'd actually done, so she called the police.

She said she was on the phone with dispatch when Harrison grabbed her arm. Guerrero then tried to step in. 

"I got punched in the face by him," Wilson said. "I split my nose open. We were on the ground."

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."

Their attorney says they were arrested for assaulting a police officer, and that the charges were thrown out five months later, but not before the couple spent their vacation money to post bail. They were also prevented from leaving Oahu as a condition of their release, and say they ended up sleeping in a park on the island. The lawsuit claims Harrison targeted them because of their sexual preference and seized and detained them without probable cause.

Last week, Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) declared a state of emergency over the number of homeless people in the state.

According to Hawaii News Now, the Honolulu Police Department says it launched an internal investigation but won't say if Harrison was placed on any kind of leave.

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  1. Why, that can’t be. I am regularly informed here that there is no actual homophobia, no animus towards gay people in America, except from those icky muslim immigrants.

    1. Can you link to an example of someone saying this?

      1. Wow, it’s gotten quiet around here!

        1. Please see Sug’s reply, below. I sometimes have things to do other than reply here. Not sorry.

    2. Who informed you of that?

      1. John and repeatedly.

        1. Who is this repeatedly fellow?

        2. Well to be fair, John think gays are actually Reptilians who’ve come down to earth to weaken our marriage laws in preparation for their invasion of our planet. How would you feel if you were the only one who could see the truth?

          1. +1 PUT ON THE GLASSES!

            1. But I’m here to kick ass.

    3. Yeah, hardly a day goes by that I don’t hear about some rednecks somewhere getting a truck and some rope and having themselves a good old fashioned fag drag…

      1. That’s prog-level conflation, Loki. Had thought better of you.

        1. After re-reading your original comment, I think I read something into it that wasn’t there. For some reason I thought you were implying that homophobia, and homophobic violence, is common place in this country. I was sarcastically pointing out that it isn’t particularly common.

          Which isn’t to say it never happens, just that it isn’t commonplace, which like I said, I erroneously thought you were implying.

          Sorry about that, my bad.

          1. How dare you admit you were wrong on a comment thread! YOU’RE INTERNETTING ALL WRONG!

          2. No problem, Loki. Thanks.

    4. Hawaii is very socially conservative despite the fact that they all vote Democrat. It’s the worst of all worlds – fiscal liberals and social conservatives. Maybe because a good percentage of the island is forced to live with their grandparents because of the high cost of living.

      Beautiful place, but I would never choose to go back there to live.

      1. Plus lava flows swallow your house.

  2. What kind of retard objects to public lesbian action? Come on!

    1. [holds up pinky finger and wiggles it]

      That sort.

      1. You are supposed to use your two middle fingers in the appropriate places. Both hands. Because idle hands are the tools of the devil.

        1. I was making the universally-understood (among straight women and gay men) sigh for tiny little…

          1. tiny little… fingers?

    2. And they’re attractive lesbians too!

    3. This sort of behavior would be pretty standard in small town Montana, too, I think.

      1. Which sort?

        Hot lesbian-on-lesbian action at the grocery store?

        Thuggish reaction by state-sponsored goons?

          1. +1 Unlawful State Action III: Mondak Munchers

        1. Hah! I mean the “not treating hot chicks making out in the middle of the grocery very well” sort of behavior. My bad. Should have been more specific.

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

    The cop won’t pay for this, of course, but Foodland and those employees are going to pay big time for this.

    1. Oh, I think the taxpayers of Hawaii will get the share of punishment too.

    2. Clearly, grocery store workers deserve some qualified immunity since they were functioning as deputized agents of the state.

      1. It’s not like they had much of a choice. I’m sure the cop would have gotten quite violent with any employees who refused to obey.

      2. I think that depends on state law, Free. No idea what Hawaii has on the books.

        I vaguely recall there is a lot of variation across the states.

        1. I know. I was being sardonic.

          1. another font that needs to be invented.

      3. Yeah, I’m wondering if they’re going to try to claim that the cop ordering them to hold the suspect constituted defacto deputization.

        1. That’s probably their best bet but I don’t think the Nuremberg defense works too well for non-cops.

  4. If these claims are true, it’s truly awful and these defendants should pay through the nose.

  5. Let me channel my inner David French and the average NRO commenter on police hero worshiping:

    Those two CHOSE to be gay and CHOSE to kiss in the aisle and CHOSE to blah, blah, disobey, blah, blah, it’s not so bad they ended up in the park because blah, blah, police lives are in danger blah, blah….

    1. Needz just a dash of Jazz Shaw.

    1. I don’t think you have the right equipment. That said, I would, too.

      1. What are you talking about? I’ve got a face. And I know how to use it.

        1. I can add fingers to a face. Besides I have dated lesbians. I’m experienced. A lesbian and her bi girlfriend. Yum!

          1. I briefly dated a girl but I broke up with her because she just didn’t seem that into me. Found out later she’s a lesbian. I felt a lot better about it. Still never understood why she fucked so many guys though. Maybe she was just trying to find one that she actually liked.

            1. Oh yea, the old, “I’m not a slut, I’m a lesbian who was trying to find herself.” As if there’s anything in the bible against being a slut.

      2. He wouldn’t get to the second date.

        1. Yes I would. And I’d bring a U-Haul.

          1. [polite applause]

  6. There was a time I would have found this story a bit dubious, but unfortunately, years of Balko, cell phone and surveillance video makes me believe every single word of it.

    1. Cops in Hawaii can be brutal. Funny how cities full of allegedly tolerant citizens seem to elect officials who then allow this stuff to happen.

      1. Brutal and fat. Extremely fat.

  7. BTW, what does the comment regarding the homeless have to do with the article?

    1. They were also prevented from leaving Oahu as a condition of their release, and say they ended up sleeping in a park on the island.

    2. I thought he was suggesting that Hawaiian parks are teeming with railroaded homosexual couples.

    3. If you’re declaring a state of emergency over homelesness, it becomes even more egregious when the state creates homelessness through its own idiocy.

      1. I considered that, but figured it was a stretch beyond use…

        1. I’m agreeing with Sevo on this one, it was a tad of a non sequitir.

          It’s like one of those CNN news stories about, I dunno, a fight in the senate over gun control, and then they throw in a sentence about a woman who was killed by her boyfriend.

          Yes, there is gun violence, yes, this woman was killed by gun violence, yes it’s a story about a particular fight over an amendment on a senate bill about expanding background checks. But is there any real connection?

  8. Tolerant Oregon Hawaii!

    1. It must be those horrible Republicans running the state, or obstructing the Democrats, or choosing to exist, or…..

    2. They do have rainbows on the license plates.

      1. And they sort of almost had gay marriage before anyone else.

      2. I am actually somewhat surprised to hear this happened in Honolulu – I thought people were a little more chill there but maybe not.

        1. The people are chill — the cops, not so much so.

          1. Isn’t that the case….everywhere?

          2. Zip tie ’em, Danno!

        2. It sounds fishy to me. See Fist of Etiquette below.

  9. I see at least person is already BlackLesbianLivesMattering up thread here, but I what I see in this is a cop whose homophobia motivated violence would have very likely not manifested at all if he weren’t a cop with all the privileges and immunity that position provides. He’s become accustomed to wide discretion in his application of violence towards others, a discretion that no one should have regardless of they believe.

    1. Violent gay bashing is still pretty common, especially against men and even in places like NYC where you wouldn’t expect it.

      Some people just flip out seeing the gay.

      1. Yeah I’ve known lots of homophobes whose opinions range from overly judgmental to genocidally enthused. But I personally have never seen one leap into violent action at the site of gays in public. I know it happens, and is far more likely to happen than racially motivated violence, but it’s a comparatively tame event when the bigot isn’t a cop with a god complex and a police union.

      2. Here in Seattle, Gay Mecca, there are reports of ‘gay bashing’ or violent confrontations. When you dig into the stories, what you often find is it’s a case of those kind-of-homeless teenagers that sit in groups on Broadway, they see a gay couple walking (which is impossible to not do) and one of the teens throw a bottle at them and shouts “Fags!”

        I’m not diminishing any assault– violence is violence. But the paper and activists try to portray it as an ongoing and widespread targeting of gays that needs extra-special attention and education in our schools, when what it really needs is the cops to come by and roust these drunk brats so Balko can report on it in a blogpost.

        The fact is, people of all types are assaulted every day- and unfortunately, sometimes people are just sociopaths. As my ex-wife used to say, there’s no designation for “asshole” in the DSMIV.

      3. Violent gay bashing is still pretty common, especially against men and even in places like NYC where you wouldn’t expect it.

        Yet all the years that I’ve lived in the south/ southwest I’ve never actually witnessed it myself. Which isn’t to say it never happens, just that I’m not sure I’d describe it as “pretty common.”

    2. If you’re referring to me, FS, please have the fortitude to come out and say so. And there’s a difference between calling out people here who have repeatedly said “there is not actual homophobia in America (except among Muslims)” and going full hashtag.

      1. Being told by John and random irregular posters is hardly indicative of a widespread belief that America is homophobia free or that homophobia alone is why this happened. This happened because the homophobe, a relatively harmless but obtuse species of bigot, also happened to be the worst kind of cop. This sort of hate motivated assault and kidnapping is almost always perpetrated by either a serial killer or a cop, not John.

        1. If you’re not claiming this sort crime has some kind of widespread acceptance, then I apologize. But it was easy to infer that from your original post that seems to be an indictment of those who are generally skeptical that dem gayz have it so bad in society.

  10. I’ve read too many hoax stories from lesbians, but I’ve also read too many police abuse stories. I guess I’ll hold off ultimate judgment for now, but I expect at least enough of the story is true to label Bobby a professional asshole.

    1. Which is more likely, a lesbian couple harassed until they dare to object and then arrested for assault, or a lesbian couple attacking an off-duty officer out of the blue? The first one we see all the time… and the second?

      1. The only real question I have is whether they were asked nicely to leave first. In either case, the cop is an overreacting, violent asshole.

        1. I’ve been searching, but haven’t found the original police report. Even if the store indulged in a PR disaster like demanding a lesbian couple leave for kissing, the rest of the narrative doesn’t really track.

          It sounds like the sort of mild disobedience of an unlawful order leading to escalation to facilitate an arrest that we see so often.

          1. Yup. Cop swings dick to show his power, citizen is like WTF? And we know what comes next every time.

          2. If people would just comply.


        2. My guess is that the cop saw one of them in the aisle and hit on her. She brushed him off and when her partner came over she kissed her and giggled at the cop.

          Of course that triggered all sorts of rage on the part of the cop. He then decided to escalate because he will not be mocked by chicks who do not dig him.

      2. I know which is more likely, but my integrity is on the line here. If it turns out to be a hoax, I get to put on my face-rubbing pants and go to town on all of you.

        1. *quietly slips out of room and runs*

        2. Fist of Etiquette’s face-rubbing pants have the crotch cut out. Be warned, all.

        3. Wait, does this imply that, most of the time, you are not wearing pants?

  11. I wonder if they were asked to leave by the store employees, or if the cop just went straight to giant asshole mode.

    1. Well, Foodland is known for its decorum…

      1. You only go to Foodland if you don’t have a Safeway nearby.

  12. What a minute. The headline says “Off duty”
    Is that right?

      1. He was in uniform, dammit!

        His U-KNEE-FORM!

        You must respect his Athoritah!!!!!

      2. Doin’ right ain’t got no end.

  13. Wilson said she was confused about what they’d actually done, so she called the police.


    1. Yeah, that’s a hard lesson learned.

      1. I tell my kids, who are quite young, “You only ever involve the police if there it is a literal life-and-death situation. Only if the possibility of the police shooting a member of your family is BETTER than the current situation do you call the police”

  14. Harrison is a 26-year veteran of the police department.

    “I’m getting too old for this shit.”

    1. He’s proof wisdom doesn’t necessarily come with age?

      1. There’s no fool like an old fool.

  15. the Honolulu Police Department says it launched an internal investigation but won’t say if Harrison was placed on any kind of leave.

    I’m gonna guess that he got paid administrative leave, which he spent sitting at home watching lesbian porn.

  16. According to Hawaii News Now, the Honolulu Police Department says it launched an internal investigation but won’t say if Harrison was placed on any kind of leave.

    I’m sure he’s getting a nice paid vacation out of this.

  17. Their attorney says they were arrested for assaulting a police officer.

    “Ouch! OMG, you hit my fist with your face! Assault on a police officer!”

  18. ‘ended up sleeping in a park’…
    Credit cards tapped out? No friends in LA to loan you a buck? Sniff, sniff, funny smell…

    1. Yeah I always wondered how people can get so financially desperate so quickly.

      You actually went on vacation on that tight a budget?

      1. There’s a columnist in the local fish-wrap who is forever leaning on the ‘we’re all just one paycheck away from homeless!’ hogwash.
        Maybe you are, pal, but if so, you’ve done some horrible financial moves.

        1. it said they were there for 5 months, and spent most of their cash on bail. so… start with a big bill for bail, 5 months without work, in one of the most expensive cost of living areas in the country. (and presumably, still having bills back at the home they could not go to) it does not sound implausible to me that they were flat broke by the time it was over. even someone who is prudent enough to keep 6 months worth in savings, doesn’t keep 6 months worth of living in Honolulu, without a residence there.

      2. I’m wondering if they were on one of those shady, el-cheapo airfare plus hotel vacations; you know, the fax spam type.

    2. If they had to stay for a month or two? And eat. That might explain it.

      1. And suppose their tickets expired and they had to buy new ones? That can run into real money.

      2. Yeah, it sounds like they weren’t allowed to go home and had to stay in HI for who knows how long. Maybe they couldn’t afford to extend their hotel reservation indefinitely, and if they had saved up for the vacation, once they’re out of the money they saved, they’re pretty much up shit creek without a paddle.

    3. *makes a note to never go on vacation without 6 months of hotel fare in my destination, lest I receive no sympathy from the commentariat should I have the misfortune of interacting with the local constabulary*

  19. Don’t grownups know kisses are good, punches are bad?

  20. The news story that is linked to this article mentions that prosecutors dropped the charges after the Foodland video surveillance recordings all disappeared…

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