Columbus mother says deputy threatened arrest for breastfeeding

Columbus mother says deputy threatened arrest for breastfeeding
Published: Sep. 26, 2016 at 10:09 PM EDT|Updated: Jan. 10, 2017 at 3:42 PM EST
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COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - A Columbus mother is speaking out after a Sheriff's deputy allegedly asked her to cover up while breast feeding in a grocery store.

Then, he allegedly indicated he would arrest her for indecent exposure should her son unlatch from her breast.

Before walking into the grocery store Sunday night, Savannah Shukla says her 1-month-old Kumar was hungry.

"He was just how he is right now, on the boob, asleep," said Shukla as she nursed her son. 

However, as Shukla started to leave after check-out, she says this Sheriff's deputy stopped her and allegedly asked her to cover up "since some might find it offensive," Shukla recollected. "I'm not doing anything wrong, I said if somebody finds it offensive that's on them, not on me."

The mother of two says she then told the deputy she was allowed by law to nurse in public, stating Georgia legislation, which says "A mother may breast-feed her baby in any location where the mother and baby are otherwise authorized to be."

"And that's when he started to grow frustrated with me," continued Shukla.

She says that frustration grew into threats.

"He was like 'well, ma'am I already see your areola, and if he unlatches and shows nipple that is considered indecent exposure,' so if I were to try and cover myself up, even if it's just a second, he said that would be considered indecent exposure and that he really didn't want me to have to be arrested," Shukla said. 

Muscogee County Sheriff John Darr took to Facebook to weigh in on the situation, saying "Our office does not condone these actions and will ensure all officers know and understand the law. On behalf of the Muscogee County Sheriff's Office, I would like to personally extend an apology to the woman involved, and we hope that she knows that these are not the opinions or practices of the office as a whole."

Sheriff John Darr then posted the following update on Monday afternoon.

Shukla says she filed an official complaint on Monday in hopes that other mothers won't experience the same treatment.

"It was horrifying, absolutely horrifying that somebody, who like I said, is supposed to protect me, threatened to arrest me and I hadn't even done anything wrong," said Shukla.

WTVM reached out to Sheriff Darr multiple times Monday. As of Monday afternoon, he has not yet returned our calls.

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