CLAIM

The officer who saved Steve Scalise, Crystal Griner, is a lesbian (and the congressman anti-gay rights).

MOSTLY TRUE

RATING

MOSTLY TRUE

WHAT'S TRUE

Griner is married to a woman; Scalise has not supported marriage equality measures during his political career.

WHAT'S FALSE

Griner was not simply a responding officer, but part of Scalise's security detail.

ORIGIN

On 15 June 2017, a post circulated claiming that police officer Crystal Griner (who was wounded during the shooting of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise one day earlier) is a lesbian, and risked her life to save a man who is opposed to her own marriage:

As it turns out, Steve Scalise and countless other Republicans were saved yesterday by a DC law enforcement officer named Crystal Griner. She and her partner David Bailey were the cops that took down yesterday’s shooter.

She was shot in the ankle for her troubles.

Officer Bailey is her professional partner. Ms Griner’s life’s partner and married companion is Tiffany Dyer.

That’s right, haters of LGBTQ rights, a lesbian saved your fucking lives. Steve Scalise — vocal proponent of bans on same sex marriage — alive today courtesy of a woman who loves a woman.”

COPY/SHARE

_23__Jeff_McCarthy_-__As_it_turns_out__Steve_Scalise_and_countless___

According to the post, Griner (a lesbian) saved Scalise (an opponent of LGBT rights), ending with a “that’s right, haters” message.

Although elements of the post are accurate, on the whole it left out a lot of context and a complex backstory involving Griner, Bailey, their jobs, and the incident. It is true that Griner is married to another woman, an incidental detail reported by gay publication Washington Blade:

Capitol Police Officer Crystal Griner — a lesbian in a same-sex marriage — was among those wounded during a shooting this week in the Virginia suburbs and received a visit from President Trump during his trip to the hospital to see the victims.

Griner was among the five people shooter James T. Hodgkinson wounded on Wednesday during an incident at the Republican congressional baseball practice. On the House floor, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) praised her as one of the officers who saved lives during the shooting where House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) was badly wounded.

According to CBS News, Griner and Special Agent David Bailey rushed Hodgkinson despite their own wounds. After being shot in the ankle, she was taken to MedStar Washington Hospital Center for recovery.

The tone of the Facebook posts are evocative of a longstanding falsehood involving a photograph of black medical personnel treating a Ku Klux Klan member, implying that Scalise might be horrified to discover his life was saved by a lesbian. 

Further, both Griner and Bailey are black, and in the days after the shooting a quote attributed to Scalise describing himself as “David Duke without the baggage” re-entered the news cycle. Although that quote, too, was often presented in a facile manner, Scalise separately did come under fire for having purported links to white supremacist groups:

He’s admitted to giving a speech to white supremacists.

In 2002, Scalise spoke to the European Unity and Rights Organization, a group led by Duke, the former Grand Wizard of the KKK. “He told me he was like David Duke without the baggage,” Stephanie Grace, a long-time political reporter, told The New York Times in 2014 of her first meeting with Scalise. “I think he meant he supported the same policy ideas as David Duke, but he wasn’t David Duke, that he didn’t have the same feelings about certain people as David Duke did.” While Scalise admitted to the speech, he later claimed he didn’t know their cause was white supremacy.

Despite Rep. Scalise’s reported proximity to white supremacists during his political career (Scalise clarified that he disavowed the ideology in 2014), friends said Bailey is devoted to his work:

“[Bailey] definitely takes his job very seriously. He works really hard and is committed to keeping the Whip safe and to serving,” [friend Danielle] Carpenter told The Daily Beast. “He is a leader in all ways. He is one of the best guys I’ve ever met—is kind to everyone and always makes sure that everyone feels safe and taken care of. Dave is really proud of his Brazilian and Jamaican heritage and you can tell he would do anything for family. He considers Congressman Scalise and his family as his own, so it is no surprise that he would make any sacrifice necessary to keep Whip Scalise safe.”

The post also said that “Steve Scalise and countless other Republicans were saved,” but it’s worth noting that Scalise was gravely injured in the shooting and remains in critical (but improved) condition as of 16 June 2017. However, by all accounts, Griner and Bailey were hailed for averting what could have been a massacre. But the pair were not responding officers acting in a moment of spontaneity; both officers were specifically assigned to protect Scalise:

A mass shooting during a congressional baseball practice early Wednesday morning could have been a full-blown “massacre,” Congress members say. Instead, two special agents put their lives on the line, potentially saving dozens of others.

Capitol Police officers Crystal Griner and David Bailey are special agents on Rep. Steve Scalise’s security detail. Scalise was standing near second base in an Alexandria, Virginia park when the bullets began flying from behind the third base dugout, striking Scalise. While Scalise dragged himself to safety, Griner and Bailey lept into action. In an extended firefight, the two agents took down shooter James Hodgkinson while battling through injuries of their own. Both were taken to the hospital after the gunfight, and are recovering from their injuries, officials say.

… Most congress members do not have their own security details. But high-ranking officials like Scalise, the House Majority Whip, are assigned security teams.

Had Scalise not been present at the early-morning practice, Griner and Bailey would neither have been present to intervene:

If Scalise hadn’t attended with his security detail, lawmakers said, many of their colleagues likely would have been slaughtered by Hodgkinson.

“Our lives were saved by the Capitol Police. Had they not been there I think it would have been a massacre,” Sen. Rand Paul said on CNN after the shooting. “The field, I mean, was basically a killing field.” But the Capitol Police officers weren’t the only ones credited with saving lives during the shootout.

While one of the responding officer is a lesbian, and Scalise does not politically support marriage equality efforts, the post did elide much of the context around Griner and Bailey’s role in averting tragedy at the congressional baseball practice shooting. 

Both officers were assigned to serve as Scalise’s security detail, and their presence was repeatedly described as a fortuitous occurrence that likely kept anyone from getting killed. Although it is accurate to say that Griner is a lesbian in a marriage opposed politically by Scalise, the role of both officers and their actions on that day appear to have been motivated by something other than politics.

Sources:

Gore, Leada.   “Watch Injured Capitol Hill Officer David Bailey Throw Out First Pitch At Congressional Baseball Game.”
    AL.com.   16 June 2017.

Johnson, Chris.   “Lesbian Officer Wounded In Va. Shooting, Visited By Trump In Hospital.”
    Washington Blade.   15 June 2017.

Menza, Kaitlin.   “Some Background On Steve Scalise, The Republican Congressman Who Was Shot This Morning.”
    Esquire.   14 June 2017.

Weill, Kelly.   “The Hero Cops Who Prevented a Congressional ‘Massacre.'”
    The Daily Beast.   14 June 2017.

Wong, Scott.   “Wounded Scalise Opens Up About Race.”
    The Hill.   2 April 2015.

OnTheIssues.   “Steve Scalise On The Issues.”
    Accessed 16 June 2017.