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Mom says police threatened to arrest her for breastfeeding at grocery store

On a grocery shopping trip with her toddler and newborn, a Georgia mom says a police officer told her to cover up or face the consequences.
/ Source: TODAY Contributor

During a routine visit to her local Piggly Wiggly grocery store, mom-of-two Savannah Shukla says a police deputy approached her to talk about her public breastfeeding, cautioning the Columbus, Georgia, woman to cover up or face the consequences.

"A deputy approached me right when I was about to leave and informed that I needed to cover up because someone might find it 'offensive,'" Shukla wrote in a Facebook post about the incident. "I repeated the law back to him stating that Georgia state law says I can breastfeed...wherever I want as long as I'm authorized to be there."

"He then grows flustered and says, 'No ma'am that's not the case,'" Shukla continued. "'You just THINK you know what the law says and if your nipple becomes exposed I really don't want to have to arrest you or you be arrested for being offensive.'"

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Shukla, who has a 20-month old and a 1-month old, included a photo with her post, taken by a woman she met in the store that evening. The image shows a deputy, identified as "Deputy Zipata," having a heated conversation with Shukla as she breastfeeds her newborn.

"He also pointed out how he could 'already see my areola' and that if someone saw my nipple...he would have to arrest me," Shukla wrote in the post, adding that she walked away from the officer soon after and went to her car.

John Darr is sheriff of Muskogee County, the county in which the incident occurred. Darr posted an apology to Facebook the morning after Shukla's post appeared.

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"My wife and I have four children, each of whom were breastfed, and two of my daughters now have small children of their own. Therefore, I fully understand and appreciate the right of a woman to feed her child wherever she is most comfortable," Darr wrote in the post. "It is also the law in the state of Georgia. We are currently looking into this incident and it will be addressed."

"Our office does not condone these actions and will ensure all officers know and understand the law," the post reads. "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."

Never miss a parenting story with TODAY’s newsletters! Sign up here reached out to Darr's office and was told that the incident is still being investigated by the county's Office of Professional Standards.