A Queens college student who purchased an expensive belt at New York’s high-end department store, Barneys, was cornered by undercover NYPD cops accusing the teen of fraud last spring. Trayon Christian claims in a lawsuit that the cops didn’t believe he could afford the $350 belt, and essentially profiled him because he is black.
Christian, 19, told the New York Daily News that on April 29, he went into Barneys to purchase a Ferragamo belt as a treat to himself. After seeing his favorite rappers wear the pricey item (particularly Juelz Santana), Christian say he used money from his work-study job to purchase the belt with his debit card. However, Christian, who was 18 at the time, said that the cops tailed him before cornering the teen a block away and held him for questioning.
From the Daily News:
But he got no more than a block from the store when two undercover NYPD detectives stopped him near E. 60th St., the lawsuit said.
“They said my card wasn’t real, it was fake. They said someone at Barneys called to report it,” said Christian.
The male detectives — whose names he never learned — asked to see ID and look in his bag, he said.
Christian then adds in his lawsuit that he was handcuffed and detained at the 19th Precinct holding facility for over two hours until NYPD determined that the card was officially his. The Barneys clerk didn’t give any cause for alarm during the belt purchase according to Christian’s story, and he followed store policy by providing a state-issued ID along with his debit card.
Christian, a student at the New York City College of Technology, said he returned the belt to Barneys to get a refund, adding that Barneys is “cruel” and “racist.” His attorney, Michael Palillo, says his client is now working at Target and has a clean record.
Christian’s mother directly called the incident racially motivated and is seeking justice along with her son.
“It’s because he’s an African-American,” she said of Barneys reporting his debit card as stolen. “It’s wrong. They shouldn’t have done this.”
Barneys has not responded publicly to the lawsuit. The NYPD claims that Christian was held for less time than stated. Check out photos of Christian and the belt in question in the gallery.
Photos: New York Daily News, Facebook, New York Post