There is an extreme harassment experience that I went through about a year and a half ago that still impacts the way I live my life everyday. I walked into a store to grocery shop and left the store thinking I was going to be murdered. Here is my story:
On February 25, 2010, I entered Shoppers grocery store in Largo, MD, to do some shopping. I had been dropped off by my younger brother (16) and he went into another store in the shopping center. Now around that time I had been getting street harassed so much that I was literally scared to go anywhere by myself. I had asked my brother to come into the store with me but he said that he was going to McDonalds and would meet me later.
As I entered the store I scanned my surroundings and I saw a guy who was in an aisle close to the entrance (my harassment experiences causes me to this). I had my headphones in my ear but my music turned off.
Anyway, as soon as I entered the specific aisle I needed to go to I could hear someone behind me. Ironically now the guy who was in the aisle close to the entrance is now behind me as soon as I stop (interesting huh). He starts frowning and asks me in a rude tone, “Are you just gonna stand in the middle of the isle like that?”
I was baffled because I was the only one in the isle and I am only 5’4 and medium build. There was no way I could have been in his way. Based on all my harassment experiences I was pretty sure what was going on, he was trying to harass me. It was no coincidence that he was towards the entrance of the store when I entered and saw him and as soon as I stopped, he was behind me.
I calmly said,”You don’t have to talk to me like that just because I’m a woman. How was I supposed to know you’re behind me?”
As I was rationally saying this, the guy was mumbling over me, he then slid past me (without me moving an inch) and said, “Why don’t you learn to turn your music down and maybe you’ll hear.”
Now as I mentioned I had headphones but know music and the reason was because of stuff like this. I’m TIRED of guys harassing me and this one was using this as a reason to harass me.
He appeared to be an adult. Who is he to come into a store and talk to another adult like this? I then told him he was ignorant…you know what he did? He leaned forward and YELLS in my face that I am ignorant. At this point we had an argument because I was pretty damn tired.
I am so tired of males harassing me whenever I’m by myself. It has affected me to the point where I no longer feel safe and at that point I was 25 years old and had years of street harassment under my belt. This was not the first time a male had harassed me in the grocery store either, but this one was more aggressive and I was damn sick of it!
Anyways a crowd started to form because we were yelling at each other and I became embarrassed. I moved to another aisle and told him our conversation was over and you know what happened? He followed me into the next aisle with a big smirk on his face and continued to yell at me. That was IT!
I called my brother and vented about what happened and he was disgusted. I would always tell him about how guys would bother me in public and he always thought I was being dramatic. Well this time it happened with him being right across the street. This is where things got a little messy.
I wasn’t aware that my brother had met up with three of his high school buddies in the McDonalds and he didn’t tell me he was with them. Anyways he came to the store and when he met me in an aisle, he had one of his friends with him (I didn’t even know he had two other friends waiting for him). Anyways he asked me where the guy was and I pointed him out.
I’ll never forget the look on the harasser’s face when he saw my brother. He looked like he got caught doing something he knew he wasn’t supposed to be doing. He knew he was wrong but just didn’t care. Now I had protection and he didn’t like that.
Anyways, my brother asked what the guy’s issue with me was, you know what the guy said? I aint got s— to say to you.
Can you imagine?
So, he could harass me, follow me, and yell at me, but had nothing to say to my little bro? Interesting, well I guess that’s how harassment works.
Anyways the guy walked towards our direction from the opposite end of the aisle, but as as he was walking my brother maintained eye contact with him and my brother stood in front of me, blocking him from getting any closer to me.
Guess what the harasser did next?
He pulled out a gun and pointed it my brother and his friend. My brother told me to run and we all ran for dear life. I didn’t even know my brother had two other friends that he knew in the store and when they saw us running they tried to follow and guess what? The guy grabbed them.
As I ran out the store the store’s security followed ME as if I stole something. He told me to stop but I didn’t because I didn’t know if the guy was going to shoot me. I was outside at this point and my brother told the security to get his hands off of me cause we were running due to some guy brandishing a gun.
Me, my brother, and his friend (who was only 14) ran to the car. I threw up from anxiety as soon as I got in the car. As we pulled out of the lot I asked my brother about the two other kids in the store and he said nothing. We soon received a phone call.
When my brother answered the phone it was a PG police officer stating that my the guy I had gotten into it with was an MPD Forensics Police Officer and they had two of his friends who just happened to be in the store. They said I needed to come to the store and give a statement. I came back and explained everything as I am now, how this guy went out of his way to harass me for no reason and then pulled a firearm on my brother when confronted (police told me he stated he felt threatened smh).
My thing is if he was felt threatened well then where did he get off harassing me? Anyways I gave a statement and the police gave me his name and badge and Lieutenant’s name so I could report him. I filed a formal complaint with his Lt. He was exonerated.
They said that based on the fact that there were multiple people in the store who knew my brother it ‘appeared’ to be an attack. Even though they never approached him and he actually grabbed them.
Also, while I was getting harassed no one said anything (some grown black males were actually laughing). Anyways, the Lt. said based on a witness that claimed I was being more combative (interesting huh ) especially since no one was around when he approached.
She even told me to own up to my culpability and tried to infer that I planned an attack. There’s a difference between a confrontation and an attack. What the officer did was an attack. Also, how was I to know he had friends with him (and they didn’t approach the harasser anyways).
When I filed an appeal a Lt. from Investigative Services Bureau looked into the incident and found misconduct on the officer’s behavior. He made recommendations for punishments and the officer’s commander overruled and just discussed what happened with him.
I was disgusted and am now trying to make local news media aware of my experience. MPD has made me lose faith and respect for them.
I am a woman who was minding her own business and one of their officers went out of his way to harass/intimidate me. At the time I didn’t understand why he was carrying on in the way he was because there was no reasonable reason for it. He literally walked up to me when I was alone and started lashing out at me.
I now know he was doing it because he had a gun and is licensed to carry one along with a badge. They bought this excuse that he felt threatened by kids??? I know that there are some reckless youth now, but how could they buy that when he had just finished harassing a woman (someone who was defenseless against him)? I don’t understand.
And if his behavior wasn’t bad to them, then what did we do to get a gun pulled in front of us? I believe in a higher power and one day this guy will have to answer to treating a woman and kids like this.
For a minute, I thought he was going to kill us and I really think that’s what he wanted, to put us in absolute fear for our lives. Which is why he didn’t announce he was an officer.
I don’t feel safe anywhere in public because I’ve been harassed just about any and everywhere. On the street, the mall, the grocery store, the corner store, at work, the gas station, the subway (I refuse to take the subway after a few scary incidents), EVERY DAMN WHERE.
This Forensics police officer works for MPDC. I am now trying to sue this police officer for intentional infliction of emotional distress. I don’t know how successful I will be in suing him but what he did to me is a crime. It’s not so much if I win, but actually going through all the procedures available to me. He harassed me in a public space (forced an interaction) and intentionally threatened my life. I believe that he knew pulling a gun on people when he was not in uniform would give the impression of an physical attack and I believe that was his objective. Someone like this is given more power than everyday citizens and he obviously has no problem using it to his advantage. I think people need to be aware of this incident because in local news, as of lately, many police officers have (primarily in DC) have been in the news for committing all types if horrible crimes against women and people in general. Well if police officers from DC can come into Maryland grocery stores when they’re not even working and get away with causing this type of incident (where someone could have been injured or even killed), why wouldn’t they feel as though they’re above the law? I will not be silent about this incident.
Submitted by anonymous
Location: Shoppers Grocery Store, Largo, MD
Time of harassment: Evening Rush Hour (3:30P-7:30P)