Owens -- who ET spoke to on Wednesday -- was job shamed for bagging groceries in the initial reports, but quickly received tons of support on social media from fans and celebs alike. Karma Lawrence, who took the photos of Owens, also gave an unflattering eyewitness account of the former Cosby Show star to multiple outlets, for example, telling Radar that he looked "bloated and unhappy."
“It made me feel really bad. I was like, ‘Wow! All those years of doing the show and you ended up as a cashier,’” Lawrence is also quoted as saying.
However, in a new interview with NJ Advance Media, Lawrence says she meant no harm.
“I don’t know why I snuck a picture,” the 50-year-old medical secretary says. “I figured everybody does it. I don’t know what possessed me. I just did it. I didn’t even think about it. I just kind of did it on impulse and it was a bad impulse. You just don’t expect to see the guy from The Cosby Show working at your Trader Joe’s is all."
“It wasn’t malicious,” she continues about her intent. “That’s on my kids, my grandkids, my parents. I’m not that type of a person. I’m not the monster they’re making me out to be."
Lawrence says she wasn't paid for the photos, and clearly wasn't expecting the intense backlash she's now been facing.
“So much hate. So much nastiness. Oh, it’s been terrible,” Lawrence shares about the social media comments and emails she's received. “They write Karma’s a b****. It’s bad.”
Lawrence now wants to apologize to Owens.
“I actually wanted to go up to him and say something, but I thought, you might embarrass him,” she recalls of her initial encounter with him. “But then I did something that actually embarrassed him more. I didn’t go with my first instinct, and I should’ve. I should’ve.”
"I would tell him, ‘I am extremely, extremely apologetic about what has happened,’” she continues. “And if I could take it back, I would.”
"Oh my gosh, it's like, they have to say things like, 'with his stained shirt bagging potatoes' and I love this... and the lady said he looked 'fat, bloated and unhappy,' and I thought, 'What?' As a Yale English major I'm gonna take exception with that," he joked. "Don't say fat and bloated -- that's what we call repetitious. Just use one of those words -- don't use two, just one is fine -- and 'unhappy?' You know, no. I was not unhappy. Now, was I overjoyed that day? Maybe not ... it's like, let's just describe this in the worst way possible, you know, with the picture down from below ... I don't know, I wish those guys no ill. I kind of feel sorry for them and I hope they've learned a lesson. I hope bad karma turns into good karma, and we'll leave it at that."
"Well, what they did was they appealed to the worst natures in people, and I think they were surprised to find that the better natures in people totally triumph in this case," he added.
Owens eventually had to quit his job at Trader Joe's due to all of the attention. He shared that his bosses didn't want him to leave and that all of his co-workers were "very, very good" to him.
"Basically I left at that point because I felt like just for my personal sake, my dignity and my emotional well-being, I didn't want to be in the store while I felt like people might be staking out the place as they did, actually," he explained. "People came to the store and they were staking it out and stuff. I didn't feel like that was going to be good for my spiritual being, so I felt like I needed to at least temporarily step out, and I think that was the wise thing to do, actually."
During our chat, Owens proudly wore his Trader Joe's name tag.
"It's to not be ashamed of work but to be proud of whatever you do, you know?" he said of why he decided to wear the tag. "So, I deliberately brought it today, and I'm wearing it all day just to make a point that, you know, work is not something to be ashamed of no matter what it is."