Hawaii forced to pay gay couple $110,000 after arrest for kissing in public and three days in jail

A gay couple say they are glad their ordeal is over now that the city of Honolulu has settled a lawsuit they brought after being wrongfully arrested for kissing in public and sent to jail while holidaying in Hawaii.

Courtney Wilson, left, and Taylor Guerrero posing for a photo in Honolulu.  Honolulu will pay $80,000 to settle the lesbian couple's lawsuit. (AP)

Courtney Wilson, left, and Taylor Guerrero posing for a photo in Honolulu. Honolulu will pay $80,000 to settle the lesbian couple's lawsuit. (AP) Source: AP

The Hawaiian city of Honolulu has had to pay $110,000 (US$80,000) to a gay couple who were wrongfully arrested after a policeman saw them kissing in a supermarket.

The settlement to a lawsuit against the city brought by the couple was announced on Friday in the US federal court on the island of Oahu subject to approval from the Honolulu city council reported Associated Press.

Courtney Wilson and Taylor Guerrero were holidaying on the island from Los Angeles last year when they were spotted kissing and being affectionate in a supermarket on Oahu’s North Shore.

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Officer Bobby Harrison who was shopping in the store: “observed their consensual romantic contact and, in a loud voice, ordered plaintiffs to stop and ‘take it somewhere else’”, reported AP.

The women moved away from the officer who then confronted them again a short time later declaring he would have them thrown out of the store, the lawsuit stated.

Then when the women were at the checkout paying for their groceries, Harrison grabbed Ms Wilson by the arm prompting her to try and call 911, according to the women.

The three were then involved in a scuffle that resulted in Harrison arresting the two women and charging them with felony assault which saw them spend three days in jail. The charges were later thrown out by a court.

However an internal investigation into Harrison’s behaviour found no evidence of wrongdoing on his part.

“The internal investigation was completed, and the allegations were not sustained,” the department spokeswoman Michelle Yu said in an email. Harrison retired at the end of last year, she said.

The women are no longer a couple, but they said but said they will split the settlement money after their legal bills have been covered.

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

“I’m happy with it,” Guerrero said. “I’m just glad it’s over with.”


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Published 23 May 2016 at 5:44pm
Source: SBS

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