A student from Corona, Queens, just wanted to look like his hip-hop idol Juelz Santana when he bought a $350 Ferragamo belt at Barney's in April. Instead, Trayon Christian, 19, was handcuffed and detained for two hours by police officers after a Barney's clerk called them to say she believed the purchase was fraudulent. He filed a lawsuit against the department store on Monday.
At the time, Christian was working at City Tech, where he studies, and saving his money for the expensive belt after he saw a photo of Juelz Santana wearing one. His lawyer, Michael Palillo, said Christian walked into the Madison Avenue store to buy the designer accessory. Palillo said the store clerk asked him for ID, and Christian complied and made the purchase with his debit card.
But after Christian walked out of the store, he was stopped just a block away by plainclothes police officers after the clerk told them that Christian had made a fraudulent purchase. Palillo said the officers accused Christian of using a fraudulent credit card. Christian denied the allegation and showed them his debit card, New York driver's license and student ID to prove that the card was his.
Still, he was handcuffed and taken to the 19th Precinct where he was detained in a cell for two hours. Palillo said officers eventually let him go and told him they had made a mistake.
"He was shocked, scared and humiliated. He's telling me the only reason he was arrested was because he was a young black male," said Palillo. "Barney's didn't think he fit the profile of other people who shop in their store." Palillo added that the department store never apologized to Christian for the incident.
Christian was so upset by the incident that he returned the belt to the store a few days later. "Not only was he humiliated, but he doesn't want this to happen to anyone else," said Palillo of the lawsuit.
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The city's law department did not immediately respond to Metro's request for comment on the lawsuit. Barney's did not immediately return a call for comment.