Lesbian Couple Arrested In Hawaii For Holding Hands Gets $80K Settlement From City Of Honolulu

Arrested lesbian couple get $80K settlement

Back in March 2015, Courtney Wilson and Taylor Guerrero were arrested after refusing to stop showing affection to each other in a grocery store in Honolulu, Hawaii.

The two women, who hail from Los Angeles, alleged in their suit that Officer Bobby Harrison spotted them walking through the aisles of the Foodland store on Oahu’s North Shore holding hands and that at one point they hugged and kissed. Harrison reportedly told them to stop and “take it somewhere else.”

According to the suit, Wilson and Guerrero initially complied and continued browsing the aisles of the store. However, Harrison again saw them being affectionate with each other and he threatened to have them thrown out.

As reported by the Guardian, the women said last year that when they were in the checkout line, Harrison grabbed Wilson by her wrist, and she started to call 911. According to the suit, Harrison eventually, “threw Plaintiff Guerrero on to the ground, striking Plaintiff Wilson in the process, and placed both of them in restraints.”

The lesbian couple was then arrested and spent three days in jail on charges of felony assault of a law enforcement officer, which charges were eventually dropped.

Reportedly at the time of the arrest, Honolulu Police Department spokeswoman Michelle Yu told NBC News that the department had opened an internal investigation into the incident.

In an email, Yu later wrote, “The internal investigation was completed, and the allegations were not sustained.” Yu also said Harrison had retired at the end of last year.

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Reportedly, the lawsuit sought unspecified damages and Wilson told KHNL after the announcement was made of the settlement that she wasn’t looking for money.

“I’m glad it’s over, but at the same time, we wanted the officer to suffer some sort of repercussion,” Wilson said.

Wilson also hopes that something good can come from the attention the story has gained in the media.

“For the publicity that it has gained, I hope that people saw it and it gives them inspiration to stand up for the civil rights that we have and to not tolerate bigotry behavior like that because it’s not acceptable,” she said.

Reportedly, the city of Honolulu will pay $80,000 in settlement to the couple after being arrested for showing affection in the grocery store. Reportedly, in return the couple – Wilson and Guerrero – has agreed to dismiss any claims against the city and Officer Bobby Harrison.

According to Nicolette Winter, a Honolulu deputy corporation counsel, the city is expected to consider the settlement at a July 6 meeting.

Donna Leong, acting for the city of Honolulu said in a statement Friday, “The Department of the Corporation Counsel believes that the tentative settlement is in the best interests of the city.”

According to Wilson, she and Guerrero have since split, but they do remain friends. Wilson said she has returned to Los Angeles, while Guerrero ended up living and working in Honolulu, partly due to a condition of their release from jail that required them to stay on the island, but also because she found she enjoyed living there.

On Guerrero’s part, she says she is happy with the money from the settlement and says the pair plans to split the money after paying their attorneys. She added, “I’m just glad it’s over with.”

[Photo Honolulu via Flickr by Edward Garman, cropped and resized/CC BY 2.0]