(WASHINGTON) — A security guard at a Giant Food grocery store in Washington, D.C., has been charged with simple assault for allegedly pushing a transgender woman out of the store after trying to use the women’s restroom, according to the Metropolitan Police Department.
The incident happened around noon on Wednesday when Ebony Belcher — who identified herself as a trans woman to ABC affiliate WJLA — went to use the women’s bathroom at a Giant grocery store in the city, according to a statement by Metropolitan Police Officer Tisha Grant filed with the Superior Court for the District of Columbia.
A security guard — identified to ABC News by a police spokeswoman as 45-year-old Francine Jones — then approached Belcher and told her “she could not use the [women’s] bathroom,” the statement said. A verbal altercation ensued, during which Jones used a homophobic slur and told Belcher, “(you) need to get out of here,” the statement continued.
Belcher then left the bathroom and proceeded to walk to the main area of the store, but Jones then blocked her and pushed her out the door, according to the statement.
Once outside, Belcher called 911, the statement said. Jones was then “arrested for Simple Assault and transported to the First District Police Station for processing,” according to the statement.
The police incident report for the arrest, obtained by ABC News Thursday, indicated that there was an anti-LGBT “hate bias/motivation” for the crime.
Jones’ attorney, Joel R. Davidson, did not immediately return ABC News’ request for comment, and a District of Columbia Courts spokeswoman told ABC News Thursday that it appeared Jones had not yet entered a plea to the charge against her as of this afternoon.
Belcher said she was emotionally hurt from the incident, WJLA reported on Wednesday.
“It’s terrible…. I’m distraught,” she told WJLA. “People should not be discriminated based on their gender identity.”
Ahold USA, the parent company of Giant, told ABC News in a statement today that “Giant has a longstanding commitment to creating a diverse and inclusive environment in which all associates and all customers are treated fairly and with respect at all times.”
“We view the choice of restroom as a personal matter, and if any customer feels uncomfortable at any point shopping in our stores for any reason, we encourage them to speak to a member of store management, who have both the experience and the discretion to address all issues,” Ahold USA said. “Clearly, in this case, a third-party security guard appears to have acted inappropriately, and we apologize unreservedly.”
A spokesperson for Ahold USA added that the security guard involved in the alleged incident was employed by Wolf Professional Security, a private security firm based in Baltimore.
Wolf Professional Security referred ABC News’ request for comment to its attorney, Ned Kodeck, who declined to comment to ABC News Thursday.
Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
Recent posts in National News