PHOENIX — The husband of a woman caught on video grabbing a convenience store customer and telling her to “go back to your country” says the encounter was out of character for his wife, and he has apologized for her racist insults.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Robert Harrian told The Arizona Republic. “What she said was reprehensible … I’m very, very sorry.”
The video, first posted on Facebook by Greg Conn, who was in the Phoenix store, has 20,000 shares, 12,000 reactions and nearly 9,000 comments. It shows Tamara Harrian approaching a customer checking out at the cash register, identified in the post as Karina Rodriguez. The gas station/convenience store was a Shell in north Phoenix, according to the Facebook post.
Tamara tells Rodriguez that she isn’t welcome in the store and needs to “go back to your country” along with o similar remarks. As an exchange between the women escalates, Harrian can be seen grabbing Rodriguez’s arm. Rodriguez then slaps her across the face.
Robert Harrian said he first saw the video when a friend emailed it to him Sunday morning. He says he and his wife aren’t racist and that a mental illness can make her act out of character.
Previously reported: Woman slaps customer in Phoenix store who berated her with racist language in viral video
“I’ve been brought to tears a lot the past couple days,” he said. “I have tried to do my best to share with people what really happened, but the emails don’t stop, the posts don’t stop.”
Tamara Harrian could not be reached for comment.
Husband’s law firm drops to 1 star on Google
Robert Harrian owns the Harrian law firm in downtown Glendale, which he says received more than 1,000 negative reviews posted online since the video went viral.
A former assistant told him that before the video’s rise to internet infamy, the law firm had two or three reviews. Before getting some taken down, there were about 1,300 negative ones, he said.
Internet users were able to reclassify the law firm on Google’s first page as a public restroom and briefly changed the main photo to one of a building with a sign that reads “CLOWN MOTEL” in all caps.
“Yesterday the phone lines were so busy, I couldn’t get a call in or out,” Harrian said. “So many emails came into me that it crashed our email. When I opened it up this morning, I had 300 emails.”
He worries his name will be tied to racism and that he’ll lose work. He isn’t sure his law firm, which employs less than 10 people, will survive.
Robert said he and his wife have been members of their church for decades and see the importance of diversity.
“I don’t have a racist bone in my body,” he said. “I’m very, very sorry for what happened … what my wife said and did and that whole scene. I’m very sorry.”
‘I was born in America’
The video went viral over the weekend when Conn posted it on Facebook.
It’s since been shared by hundreds of Twitter accounts.
The fight started when Tamara came into the convenience store “yelling at the clerk to get another clerk to help because the line was getting long,” Conn’s post says. When another employee came to the cash registers, the white woman told Rodriguez to check out, his post says.
As Conn filmed the interaction on his phone, Tamara came up to him and said “you need to leave, you’re not a part of this,” before going back to Rodriguez and asking her where she was born.
“I was born in America, b—-, where are your ancestors from?” Rodriguez answers. As Rodriguez and a man with her grab their bag from the checkout counter and head for the door, Tamara tells Rodriguez she’s ”going back to Mexico” and grabs her arm, telling Rodriguez to ”keep your hands off me.”
Rodriguez then slaps her in the face.
“You deserved it, in my opinion,” Conn can be heard saying to the white woman as she leaves.
The video does not clearly show whether Rodriguez in some way touched the woman as she claimed, but it’s clear the woman was making repeated racist insults to Rodriguez as she was checking out and demanded the clerk not serve her before things became physical.
“Racism is alive and well,” Conn wrote in his Facebook post.
Rodriguez was not immediately available for comment.
None of the people involved in the matter contacted the Phoenix Police Department, Sgt. Ann Justus said in an email.
Follow Joshua Bowling on Twitter @MrJoshuaBowling.
This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Husband of Arizona woman slapped in video sorry for racist insults