A security guard who authorities said told a woman she could not use a grocery store restroom in Northeast Washington and allegedly pushed her while using a homophobic slur has been charged with assault.
D.C. police classified the incident as a “suspected hate crime.” It occurred shortly before noon Wednesday at a Giant Foods Store in the 300 block of H Street NE.
Police charged the guard, Francine Bernice Jones, 45, of the District, with one count of simple assault, a misdemeanor. She is a special police officer, meaning she is licensed by the District and has arrest powers in areas where she is designated to work. She is employed by Wolf Security in Baltimore. Calls to that office were not returned on Thursday.
Jones was ordered to appear at a July 21 hearing. She and her attorney did not immediately respond to calls for comment.
Giant Foods, in a statement, called the guard’s alleged actions inappropriate. “Clearly, in this case, a third party security guard appears to have acted inappropriately, and we apologize unreservedly.”
The statement says the store views “the choice of restroom as a personal matter.”
A 32-year-old woman told police that as she tried to enter the women’s restroom at the Giant she was approached by the guard, who ordered her to leave, according to the arrest affidavit.
The two argued and the victim told police the guard said, “he/she f----- need to get out of here,” the affidavit says. The woman said the guard then blocked her from going into the main area of the store and pushed her toward the exit, saying, “You getting out of here today.”
A D.C. police officer responded and arrested the guard. Police said they also viewed surveillance video from the store.
The woman did not respond to interview requests made through CASA Ruby, an advocacy group. The head of the group, Ruby Corado, said in an interview that the woman is transgender.
Clarence Williams contributed to this report.