An African-American engineering student from Queens filed a lawsuit Tuesday against Barneys New York and the New York Police Department for being handcuffed and detained after buying a $349 designer belt, the New York Post reported
Trayon Christian, 19, a freshman at the New York City College of Technology, said he used money earned from a part-time job to buy the Salvatore Ferragamo belt in April.
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The shopping transaction started off normal, Christian said.
“It was a quick trip,” he told the New York Daily News. “I gave them my debit card, I signed my name.”
According to his lawsuit filed Tuesday in Manhattan Supreme Court, the clerk asked Christian to show his ID, which he did.
“I showed my state ID,” he told the Daily News.
But after paying, Christian said he was a block away from the store when undercover officers approached and asked him “how a young black man such as himself could afford to purchase such an expensive belt,” according to the suit.
Christian’s attorney, Michael Palillo, told the Post, “His only crime was being a young black man.”
Christian, who has no police record, according to police sources who spoke to the New York Post, said he showed his his identification, receipt, and debit card. Still, he was handcuffed and taken to a local precinct where he was detained for about two hours, his lawsuit said.
A spokeswoman for the NYPD told the newspaper Christian was detained for about 42 minutes.
After getting verification from Chase that Christian was the rightful owner of the debit card, police offered an apology and let him go.
The fashion-loving teen returned the belt like one worn by one of his favorite rappers and vowed never to step inside Barneys again.
“I brought the belt back to Barneys a few days later and returned it,” he told the Daily News. “I got my money back, I’m not shopping there again,” he said. “It’s cruel. It’s racist.”
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