DC grocery store security officer charged with assault of transgender woman appears in court

- A D.C. security guard accused of assaulting a transgender woman while trying to stop her from using the women’s restroom inside a Giant Food grocery store made her first appearance in court on Thursday.

Francine Jones showed up in D.C. Superior Court in her security guard uniform and the judge found probable cause for simple assault. The 45-year-old was released on her own recognizance and ordered her to stay away from the customer identified as 32-year-old Ebony Belcher.

The alleged assault happened at around noon Wednesday at the grocery store located on H Street.

According to a court affidavit filed in the case, it says that the victim stated she first needed to go to the restroom and that is when she was approached by the security guard. Jones proceeded to tell Belcher that she could not use the women's bathroom. At this time, a verbal altercation began between the two with the security guard allegedly saying “he/she” and then using a derogatory term for homosexuals to order the victim to get out of the bathroom.

At that point, Belcher exited the bathroom and proceeded to walk back into the main area of the store to go to Western Union. That is when the security guard stopped Belcher. The affidavit goes on to say that Jones proceeded to push Belcher toward the exit door. That is when the victim called 911 for assistance. D.C. police arrived at the store and arrested the security guard.

Belcher was at the courthouse on Thursday to watch the proceedings. She denied rumors that she had a stay away order from the Giant Food store and said Wednesday was the first time she had ever been to the store.

“This experience has been painful because it's not fair that I was singled out just because I'm transgender and I wanted to and I had to use the women's restroom,” Belcher said outside of the courthouse. “It's not fair, it's not right and it's horrifying that I have to go throughout my life from now on every day worried about if I go to a McDonald's, Safeway, Subway worried about whether or not someone is going to come running up behind me, charging into the restroom just because I'm transgender and trying to throw me out.”

Jones is a contract employee who works for Wolf Security based out of Baltimore. The company and its attorney did not respond to several calls requesting comment. Jones’ attorney also declined to comment on Thursday.

A spokesperson for Giant said the company views the choice of restroom as a personal matter, and that in this case, a third-party security guard appears to have acted inappropriately and they apologize.

Jones is scheduled to be back in court on July 21.

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