In March, Courtney Wilson and her girlfriend Taylor Guerrero came to the islands from Los Angeles for what was supposed to be a restful vacation. Instead, the trip turned into a nightmare when the pair was arrested after kissing in Foodland Pupukea.
That's when they heard Harrison allegedly yell at them from across the store. "He was like you girls, you girls can't do that in here," Guerrero said. It was the second day of their Hawaii vacation. The women said they didn't pay any attention to Harrison, and instead headed to the checkout.
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."
The two were arrested for assaulting a police officer and had to use the money they came to the islands with to post bail. As a condition of their release, they couldn't leave Oahu and wound up sleeping in a park.
After five months, prosecutors threw out the case, said their attorney, Eric Seitz. Wilson also told reporters that she was denied medical treatment at the scene and after she was arrested. Pictures of her injuries weren't taken until two days after the assault. Now, the women say they want justice.
"I just think that what he did was absolutely wrong, without a doubt," Wilson said. "I just really want an example to be made." Harrison is a 26-year veteran of the police department. HPD says it has opened an internal investigation based on the allegations in the lawsuit, but won't say if Harrison has been placed on leave.
How could this happen? And more importantly: what can all of us do to prevent things like this from happened again?